Oxford University Press Is Migrating Its Catalogue to Its Online Platform

From Publishing Perspectives:

A migration of Oxford University Press‘ books as well as journals to the online platform Oxford Academic announced Wednesday (August 3) is expected to “further streamline access to high-quality scholarly content,” according to media messaging.

At this point, the company writes, more than 42,000 books and more than 500,000 chapters have been uploaded to the site, which already hosts some 500 journals and roughly 3 million articles.

Last month’s migrations included books from Oxford Scholarship OnlineUniversity Press Scholarship OnlineOxford Handbooks OnlineOxford Medicine OnlineOxford Clinical Psychology, the AMA Manual of Style, and Very Short Introductions.

. . . .

While it may seem something that a company as prominent as this in academic publishing would have done before now, the rationale for the move is one that makes sense: the ability to create a one-stop point of access and search for a broad base of high-profile and disparate content.

“By collating core research books and journals onto one online platform,” Oxford’s media messaging says, “Oxford University Press is better enabling its users to rapidly share and seamlessly connect ideas that advance research.

“This will continue a cycle of scholarship that furthers the press’ mission to create world-class academic and educational resources and to make them available as widely as possible. The platform will be further expanded and updated over time to provide the most effective and accessible service for users and customers.”

David Clark, for the nearly five years the managing director of Oxford Academic, is quoted, saying, “Scholarly publishing is becoming increasingly digital and this migration is an important step in realizing our potential as a digital-first publisher.

“By implementing new digital tools to access and share research faster, we’re increasing our reach as a publisher … I look forward to seeing the impact of the new Oxford Academic platform for authors, librarians and, of course, readers.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG notes this item would be deemed not newsworthy anywhere except in academic publishing.

11 thoughts on “Oxford University Press Is Migrating Its Catalogue to Its Online Platform”

  1. What’s horrifying is that they’re far from the last timid groundhog to emerge blinking into the sunlight. 20-30 years staring to catch up to technology is nothing for academics.

    (Though, I must admit, the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) online is one of the joys of tech. So they’re not truly clueless…)

    • They’re fashionably late to the party. 😉
      At least they recognize the economics of print are getting worse by the day.

      • The problem, as usual, is defining who is “they”.† And what are “the economics of print in a different copyright system” (where “making available to the public” — the Berne Convention requirement — is not quite the same thing as “publication” under US law, and the difference shows up the most in academic materials). In both instances relating to OUP, there were substantial factors that we (being in the real world!) would not label as “the economics of print.” One legal one is the effect of the US “work made for hire” regime on the way publishing has to be done… and what a publisher can do with what it has previously published. (tl;dr We’ve got Tasini and WMFH; they don’t.)

        All of which is an explanation and not an excuse. It was a predictable problem as early as 1993, when Mosaic (remember Mosaic?) pioneered a form of “read PDFs without closing the browser.” It was a problem actually solved in one form or another at about the same time — slightly differently in implementation, quite parallel in concept — by the physics and mathematics communities. And the less said about the malign influence of PG’s former employer and its (in the 1990s, there are fewer today) three major commercial competitors, the better.

        † Necessary disclosure: I have served as a referee for several OUP journals — two extensively — which included snarky e-mail conversations with the “actual editors” describing their problems with both the journal hierarchy and the book hierarchy at the Press. Let’s just say that “partisan politics and influence” were seldom far from the third paragraphs of those e-mails and leave it at that.

        • Economics of print = cost of book distribution in dead tree pulp format in both currency and ecological impact.

          • Necessarily different as to OUP for Reasons related to both the status of OUP (especially up to 2014) and definitions of “cost” imposed by differing accountancy mandates Over There and Over Here (and, further, the meaning of “nonprofit” as to OUP being different Over There than is understood Over Here).

            This is first-year chemistry stuff: Don’t point at the thermometer and claim that it shows the definitive boiling point of water without (a) calibrating the thermometer and (b) adjusting for atmospheric pressure, water purity, and (ok, ok, this is organic-chemistry lab stuff) atmospheric composition. It’s a matter of degree, and not of kind,† but those degrees add up.

            † Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all weekend.

            • Oh, Oxford paper costs are special? Subsidized by taxpayers, maybe?

              As for calibrating thermometers, we never had that problem in my Chem Labs. Intro, Organic, BioChem, or Physchem. Digital thermometers were precalibrated. 😉

              • It’s not just paper costs and crown subsidies, but other things. Including digital communications monopolies — which all of the university presses in the UK were required to use until just a couple of years ago — more terrifying than Ma Bell (and less than 25% as competent). And then there’s the required payout to the sponsoring universities, etc.

                I’m old. We didn’t have digital thermometers except in the grant-financed research labs, and never enough to go around. And even they had to be initially calibrated coming out of the box.

  2. They’re not moving fast enough. Oxford World Classics ebooks tend to be reasonably priced … when you can find them. I’ve been searching for specific translations that I know exist in print, and easily find on Amazon. But when I click for the Kindle version, I get everything but Oxford; somehow OUP never figured out to link up their Kindle and print versions. Amusingly enough, clicking for the Kindle for one particular book leads you the version published by their rival, Penguin Classics. I can’t even get mad at Penguin for that one. They saw a sleeping rival and moved in for the kill.

    Sometimes Google and Amazon can help, but it’s rarely rewarding to go to OUP itself. They will tell you the ebook version of the book you want exists, but rather than linking to it or selling it on their site, they just say you can find them wherever ebooks are sold.

    Yes, it’s good that Oxford is finally aware the internet exists. But seriously in my best Monty Python God voice: GET ON WITH IT!

    • Jamie, part of that is copyright persnickitiness and contracting incompetence, and some differences between US and UK law. Under the UK’s 1988 Act, the publisher does not have the right to republish in a new form (almost no matter what the contract says), and the translation itself has an independent life-plus-70 contract. Things are more chaotic Over Here; sometimes contract wording (depending upon the exact date of the contract) includes electronic editions without more specific reference,† and the translation itself is much more likely to have been treated as a work-made-for-hire with a maximum copyright term of 95 years (and registrations on translations were seldom properly renewed in the 1950s and 1960s, pushing many of them into the public domain in the US — my I.A. Richards translation of Plato’s Republic sitting on the bookshelf is an example). So in that sense, they’re not comparable; and remember, too, that searching on amazon.com will not get the same results as on amazon.uk, especially if you do the search via a London-IP VPN.

      † Without disclosing too much, one of the challenged-merger publishers is claiming that its 1970s and 1980s contacts for “volume rights” necessarily included e-books, despite… other language, conduct, etc. indicating otherwise. (I’m not allowed to be more specific, it’s a live/active situation.)

      • I actually tried a UK search, no VPN needed for me, and all it really did was confirm that Amazon’s book search is broken. Searching on “Oxford world classics” produced thousands of results, most of them nothing to do with Oxford, and frequently of no conceivable relevance (Raymond Feist fantasies for example?), though some of Jamie’s Penguin Classics made the cut. Even an advanced book search with “Oxford world classics” as both keywords and title and “Oxford University Press” as publisher still allowed interlopers (and I’m not talking about sponsored adverts that can infest search results).

        And searching on the ISBN for “The Castle of Otranto” from the OUP’s listing found nothing. Searching the Kindle Store for “The Castle of Otranto” produced lots of results but not the OUP version and by page 2 was serving up the normal “broken search” irrelevant results, modern shifter paranormal fantasies and the like, as well as Aphra Benn’s “Oroonoko”, which one could imagine being an Oxford classic, even though it’s not.

        • Yes, that’s exactly the type of situation I’m talking about. Wasn’t sure I articulated it correctly. I even tested on amazon.co.uk a short while ago because I was hopeful that it would make a difference, but sadly, nope.

          Glad I’m not the only one questioning Amazon’s search function; I was beginning to wonder if my Search-Fu was weak. I shouldn’t have to go outside the site to find a particular book, but more and more these days I end up having to.

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