In a major deal, the University of Chicago Press today announced an agreement to partner with Oxford University Press to launch Chicago Scholarship Online via OUP’s University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO) platform. Chicago becomes the second major American university press to sign on to OUP’s e-book platform, following the University of California Press, which signed on last fall to launch California Scholarship Online, and the 10th press overall to partner with OUP on UPSO.

Levi Stahl, University of Chicago promotions director, told PW the press is looking to start Chicago Scholarship Online with 800 titles, and is aiming for a late winter launch, most likely, by March 2013.

UPSO offers university presses their own individually-branded monograph repositories, powered by the Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO) platform. UPSO is part of a growing field of university press-driven competitors in the digital monograph field, including efforts by Cambridge University Press, the University Press E-Book Consortium (which merged with Project Muse Editions last year), and, an e-book effort by JSTOR, an extension of the popular non-profit e-journal platform. Stahl told PW its participation in UPSO is non-exclusive, and doesn’t preclude its participation in any other monograph program. "We’ve long had a policy of trying to make our books available to scholars on a wide variety of platforms and through a large number of different systems and venues," he noted. "This doesn’t change that."

Nevertheless, with the addition of Chicago (along with a host of smaller and mid-size International presses coming online), OUP hopes to put some daylight between itself and its platform competition, given the strength of its technology and the popularity of its platform. UPSO content is available in XML, (as well as available to download as PDF), and is fully cross-referenced and cross-searchable, with “clickable citations” from bibliographies and footnotes, including OpenURL and DOI-linking support. It also offers mobile functionality. And, the OSO platform, established in 2003, is well-known, and well-reviewed among academics.

As it did with CALSO, the deal makes collaborators out of two of scholarly publishing's major competitors—at least on the back end. “The University of Chicago Press is excited to be working with OUP to bring our titles to scholars and researchers through the UPSO platform,” said Garrett Kiely, director, University of Chicago Press. In a statement, Kiely praised OUP’s “professionalism and cooperative approach.” Niko Pfund, president, OUP USA, said the press was “thrilled” to work with Chicago, calling the press "one of the very finest publishers in the land.”

For Oxford, the news represents a strong kickoff to the 2013 fiscal year, after reporting outstanding results last month for fiscal 2012. Overall, OUP saw a 10% growth in sales, with total sales for all the press’s programs topping $1 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, making it the world’s first billion dollar university press. OUP officials cited its investments in digital as one of the driving factors in its performance—including the release of UPSO.