Trade and Reference

It has been a robust year across the business with Trade and Reference each performing well despite the closure of bookshops and cancellations of book fairs due to the pandemic. In total, 170 print and digital titles have been produced. Strong Trade publishing was boosted in part by a change in buying and reading habits during the pandemic.

Our academic reference publishing saw significant increases on last year thanks to strong online performance, with a 9.7 per cent increase in downloads. Meanwhile, Trade was boosted by success within Oxford World’s Classics, which saw the addition of George Orwell to the series for the first time and the launch of a new online home for the series, bringing 300 titles together digitally.

While our digital transition was massively accelerated due to the needs created by the pandemic, it also altered the profile of our customer-base in some markets:

  • We saw an increase in digital usage and engagement with online products in Reference
  • The AI and language data services market sector grew
  • Market demand for Oxford language data for low-resources languages continued, particularly in Indian languages
  • Parents took on a stronger role in their child’s reading and learning and sought new resources to support these efforts

The Press made particular efforts to support children’s mental health in our trade publishing this year. We made Everybody Worries by Jon Burgerman available free as an eBook globally and then printed it and distributed free copies in South Africa. Launched in September 2020, we developed a new picture book series, Big Words for Little People, designed to address the vocabulary gap and wellbeing.

Read With Oxford, Progress with Oxford, and Oxford Owl flourished as digital services proved vital for home-schooling parents. Owl Home, for example, had:

  • Nearly 10 million users over the course of the year
  • Over 3.5 million resources downloaded from Owl Home

Owl Home had nearly

10 million

users over the course of the year

Over

3.5 million

resources were downloaded from Owl Home

We continued to make sure our catalogue is modern and relevant. This included updates to The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as part of a long-running project to acknowledge connections to the slave trade and British colonial history in the 60,000 biographies of British figures. This year’s edits included an update to the entry for Edward Colston (whose statue was toppled by protestors in Bristol), among others.

It was also a strong year for Oxford Languages. Licensing thrived with major renewals from big tech partners including Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, which included non-English datasets covering Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, and Chinese languages. The new attribution pages launched with Google acknowledged Oxford Languages’ role in powering the search engine experience across 14 languages.

We proudly launched a new edition of an English-Hindi dictionary with a team of Hindi and English editors working together to revise and update the dictionary, which now has 55,719 entries.

New terms were added to modernize the dictionary including ‘online’, ‘climate change’, and ‘coronavirus’, and sensitive terms relating to race and gender have been thoroughly revised. An impressive 85,191 pronunciations have been added, linking the dictionary to our central pronunciation hub, giving both British and US renditions of the English headwords.

Other highlights include:

  • A different approach to the annual announcement of the Oxford Word of the Year this year, producing a report on multiple influential words called Words of an Unprecedented Year, rather than a winning word and shortlist
  • The launch of the OED Text Visualizer, a new tool to help analyze Oxford English Dictionary (OED) data. There were 8,500 users after only two months
  • Launch of the OED Researcher API to help researchers better leverage data
‘We proudly launched a new edition of an English-Hindi dictionary with a team of Hindi and English editors working together to revise and update the dictionary, which now has 55,719 entries’.

Trade and Reference case studies

25th anniversary of Very Short Introductions

Celebrating our prize winners