Oxford University Press, a department of the University of Oxford, has a remarkably diverse publishing program that reaches far beyond traditional university presses. OUP publishes in more than 40 languages under a variety of print and digital formats that cover an extremely broad academic and educational spectrum. OUP's list is aimed at all audiences, from pre-school to secondary level schoolchildren; students to academics; general readers to researchers; and individuals to institutions.

OUP is driven by the University of Oxford's objectives for excellence in scholarship, research, and education.

OUP currently publishes roughly 6,000 titles a year worldwide, selling more than 110 units per year, mostly outside of the UK.

Key company developments in 2011 & 1st half year 2012


Sales for 2010/11 were 649 million GBP, representing organic growth of more than 6%. All except one of OUP’s publishing divisions achieved growth, driven by “creation of exceptional resources, rooted in the University’s commitment to education and research for the benefit of people across the world” (Annual report 2011).

Emerging markets now account for 37% of OUP’s global sales.

Ownership, mergers & acquisition, internal organization:

OUP's main strategic priorities lie in three distinct market sectors: Academic, schools, and English language teaching (ELT). The global academic market has continued its transformation, with students, academics, and researchers accessing content primarily in digital form.

In 2011, three divisions—OUP USA, UK Academic, and Journals—were combined into a new unit, “Global Academic Business”.


Thirty-seven percent of OUP's global sales have come from emerging markets, as the press continues to lead the world in the sale of British-English ELT materials. OUP is second in US-English ELT worldwide.

A large part of OUP's UK and US higher education lists are distributed overseas, and many of its markets grew steadily in 2011.

Six of the International Division’s ten overseas branches publish in the higher education field, and the majority had a successful year, boosted by new copyrights as they took first steps into new areas of publishing and inter-branch cooperation.

WIth increased imports of Canadian titles to the US, Canada continues to reinforce its strong position in the humanities and social sciences market. Southern Africa, Malaysia, and India also grew, and Mexico, where OUP has a specialized HE Law list, saw very significant growth rates.

The one significant exception to this growth was Australia, where HE publishing sales declined due to the strength of the Australian dollar and the advent of significant online book sales from Amazon and other players based outside Australia.

The UK higher education team published more than 200 titles last year in fields ranging from marketing and international politics to law and science. However, market conditions were not favorable and growth was slowed. Difficult conditions stemmed from reduced student spending, the growth of a buoyant second-hand market, and the continued growth in sales to online retailers such as Amazon.


OUP has made it a priority to invest in digital publishing and technology. Almost every title has a digital component, such as Oxford Bibliographies Online or Oxford English Testing, an online assessment product. Successful new services for the education market include the Oxford Next (Canada) and Oxford Owl (UK).

While traditional retailers had a difficult year, online sales increased substantially. Driven by the success of Amazon’s Kindle, Amazon’s e-book sales were significantly greater than the rest of the market. The general transition of institutional library spending from print to online continues to be seen globally, with variations in speed according to market and type of publishing. In response, the Global Academic Business added content to the e-books list as well as Oxford Scholarship Online, the online monograph collection. The Oxford Journals collection has grown and now benefits from an enhanced platform, with further plans scheduled to make all Oxford Journals content available on mobile devices within the next year. Last year more than 200,000 people in 114 developing countries accessed free or reduced cost journal articles through the Research4Life initiative.

Bestselling authors & titles:

Bestselling titles in 2011 included On Being, by Peter Atkins; The Last Pagans of Rome, by Alan Cameron; and the King James Bible: 400th Anniversary Edition.

Headway is in its fourth edition and has so far helped 100 million adults to learn English. The fifth edition of the Oxford Textbook of Medicine was published—now with an online resource that provides regular updates—and has become “the definitive reference work for medical practitioners worldwide” (Annual Report 2011).

Key points for analysis & conclusions:

OUP has expanded in emerging markets and invested in digital services, accessibility and distribution, to combine online access services and e-books.

Challenges included the retail sector, particularly in developed regions, as the market shifted from ‘bricks and mortar’ retail to online in 2011. The retail environment was also weak in Australia and Canada.

The pressure on institutional library budgets in developed markets has continued throughout 2010, with institutions across the UK and Europe seeing real budget cuts of 10 - 15% on content acquisition. This picture is likely to worsen through 2011, though "many markets, including the Middle East and Asia," according to their annual report, "are not facing comparative budget cuts.”

Earlier developments:

Against widespread expectations of a decline in institutional book sales, the UK Academic Division increased its revenues in 2009 - 2010, based on a strong performance outside the UK and continued growth in online sales.

Oxford Scholarship Online, a platform for monographs, was launched in 2006 and has become one of the company's most successful academic online products, with 634 subscribing institutions worldwide.

More recently, OUP published Oxford Bibliographies Online (OBO), an online-only resource designed to help researchers find reliable sources of information by directing them to the best scholarship available.

2008 - 2009 was anticipated to face the impact of the economic downturn, which was particularly felt in the US retail market, according to the Annual Report 2009. However, as an academic publisher, OUP has “less exposure than many publishers to the trade market, and our broad geographic spread provides a degree of protection, as does an extremely diverse academic and educational publishing programme.”

Areas of growth were notably online usage in journals where OUP experimented with open access models and fair pricing. Educational publishing also had an “excellent year”.

Note: Figures are based on sales generated in calendar 2011 or—for corporations with a fiscal year—from fiscal 2011. Data are from publicly available sources and include sales of books, journals, and digital products. Because publishing data were unavailable, Pannini and Disney/Hyperion are excluded from the rankings. The listing and publisher profiles were compiled by international publishing consultant Rudiger Wischenbart under the aegis of Livres Hebdo.