Our academic publishing had a strong year, producing 2,518 print and digital titles and seeing a good performance by our journals and reference resources. While the market was impacted by an industry-wide drop in print revenues, as well as the continued decline of traditional UK and US booksellers and wholesalers, who are struggling to compete with Amazon, we countered most of the downturn in academic print sales with an increase in online product and e-book sales.
Like many organizations, OUP felt the effect of the UK’s planned exit from the European Union. Ongoing uncertainty around the Brexit terms and timeline had an effect on our academic print distribution and supply chain for the European market - though we are seeking to mitigate this through careful planning. The social mood reflected this political upheaval, contributing to our announcement of ‘toxic’ as English Word of the Year when the term saw a significant increase in usage in political contexts around the world.
Discussions in academic research publishing focused on opportunities and challenges created by Open Access, particularly following the launch of cOAlition S - a group of European research funding bodies that laid out a set of principles known as Plan S, which aims to accelerate the move to Open Access. The journals landscape was especially affected by this, as was the institutional market which is under pressure as Open Access becomes an increasingly important component of negotiations between institutions and publishers. Exactly what shape Plan S takes is yet to be confirmed pending feedback from the scholarly community, but it is likely to remain a topic of debate for some time to come.