- Annual Report
- The year in
- Finances &
The Press’s UK education publishing division, Oxford Education, performed well this year despite severe market challenges. Continued government cutbacks and uncertainty around education reform, along with a decline in consumer confidence and retail sales, put pressure on the division.
Growth was particularly rapid in the primary sector due to a matched-funding initiative from the UK Government for schools to purchase phonics materials; an increase in the sales of the recently acquired tactile mathematics system Numicon; and new strands of the literacy series Project X, a programme which focuses on making a difference for underachieving boys.
The division also saw a rise in its overall share of the secondary market thanks to a range of new titles in a number of subjects. It had particular success in geography and through its new suite of science materials for GCSE students which came complete with an innovative online homework service.
The decline in sales through national retail impacted children’s book publishing, but was compensated through online retailers and special sales customers who sell direct to consumers. Fiction publishing helped buoy sales—spearheaded by Gill Lewis’s debut novel Sky Hawk, which was published to widespread critical acclaim and received multiple award nominations.
A key theme throughout the Press’s UK publishing this year was support: for teachers, students, and parents. The literacy series Oxford Reading Tree's ‘read at home’ programme was relaunched as Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper; the free online support website for parents, Oxford Owl, was expanded to include mathematics; e-books were offered to thousands of A-level students; and the Oxford School Improvement proposition continued to expand—providing more free resources, support, and professional development for primary school teachers.
'A key theme throughout the Press’s UK publishing this year was support: for teachers, students, and parents. The literacy series Oxford Reading Tree's ‘read at home’ programme was relaunched as Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper; the free online support website for parents, Oxford Owl, was expanded to include mathematics; e-books were offered to thousands of A-level students; and the Oxford School Improvement proposition continued to expand.'
OUP publishes educational resources across a wide range of subjects, often in local languages, and there were many successes around the world this year. In Spain a new upper secondary catalogue and bilingual primary series helped to increase sales in spite of very tough market conditions. There was also double-digit growth in India, where a string of new publishing series were well received; in Malaysia where 220 new titles sold well and school-based assessment resources were first to market; and in Pakistan where new series, adaptations, and local language titles, backed up by a teacher training programme, all contributed to success.
The Press also furthered its mission in Southern Africa, where the local publishing team responded well to a curriculum reform, taking a market-leading position with 500 new titles in 11 languages. Curriculum changes also impacted the Press’s activities in Australia, where Oxford secured a market-leading position in two subjects for the new national curriculum. Sales were slower in Hong Kong, Canada, and Mexico where regulatory and market challenges limited growth.
The growth of English-medium instruction saw increased sales of UK export titles, with International Baccalaureate materials and resources for Cambridge International Examinations selling well.
The growth in demand for digital content continued to vary by region. Most of the Press’s educational products now have a digital element, and in Spain 64 new digital resources were produced across a range of subjects and age groups. OUP Australia launched the new obook and assess platforms; a government-funded e-learning pilot scheme started in Hong Kong; and the addition of CD-ROMs and e-books boosted sales in India.
The continued global growth of English language learning supported even wider dissemination of OUP’s ELT resources last year. It is now estimated that one in five English language learners globally uses Oxford resources.
The English Language Teaching division had a successful year. It continued to build its regional presence across CAMENA (Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa), Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the US, and saw sales growth in all these territories. Strong publishing aided progress, with new and first editions of key primary copyrights, such as Everybody Up!, Treetops, and Let’s Go; secondary courses developed for specific regions around the world including English Plus for European markets, Engage and Got It in South America, and a new Special Publishing Unit that helped to secure key adaptions including Headway in Saudi Arabia and Smart Choice in Mexico.
ELT publishing constitutes a large proportion of OUP’s International Division branch output: Canada had its biggest ever publishing year in ELT; India was buoyed by its new Pathways series; Mexico gained market share and achieved double-digit growth, spurred on by a big adoption of Smart Choice at the University of Guadalajara; and Malaysia also performed strongly. In Spain, new primary courses Explorers and Stay Cool contributed to success, and distance-learning course My Oxford English grew its sales in the difficult corporate market; and in Hong Kong, Oxford Path provided a suite of resources and services for parents with children aged from just a few months old up to the age of six. OUP’s divisions also continued to pursue new opportunities in mainland China where the appetite for learning English continues to grow.
ELT customers increasingly require digital and ‘blended’ products combining both print and digital elements, and OUP is responding well to this demand. The ELT division has a significant digital investment programme. All its courses now include integrated digital components, and a growing number of its titles are available as apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
The children’s dictionary market is in decline in many developed markets, but in spite of this many of OUP’s educational reference ranges performed exceptionally well this year.
In the UK, the entire children’s dictionaries range was re-launched to keep it authoritative, accessible, relevant, and engaging. Linked to free online resources to help teachers with lesson plans, the range achieved increased sales and market share growth.
In the International Division, Malaysia responded well to a growing market. Ten new titles with digital elements sold well, while India released its English–Marathi Dictionary. Despite publishing a number of new titles, OUP Australia and New Zealand suffered from a fall in sales due to the rise of free online services and a growth in the import market. There was a fall in sales in Hong Kong due to print market decline and a lack of maturity in digital platforms.
English language teaching dictionaries had a positive year. The 8th edition of the bestselling Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary spearheaded sales growth, with two million copies now sold since the edition’s 2010 release. Sales of the title were particularly impressive in Kenya, India, Germany, and Italy. ELT’s bilingual list also grew, with new Arabic, Persian, Catalan, and Italian titles added to the series. Four new dictionaries in the US greatly increased the number of titles available to students of all ages.
Demand for digital dictionaries is increasing globally, and the ELT division responded with downloadable versions of its WordPower and Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary titles, as well as an OALD8 app for iPhone and iPad. There has been an increase in requests for licensing of children’s dictionary content to which the Press is now responding through a dedicated licensing team based in the UK.
'Demand for digital dictionaries is increasing globally, and the ELT division responded with downloadable versions of its WordPower and Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary titles, as well as an OALD8 app for iPhone and iPad. There has been an increase in requests for licensing of children’s dictionary content to which the Press is now responding through a dedicated licensing team based in the UK.'