Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Printing and the heat death of the universe

By Simon Eliot
In 1901 it was calculated that Oxford University Press took in more than twice the tonnage of material that it sent out, much of the difference being accounted for by coal and machinery. The efficiency of coal was not a new concern in the printing industry. In 1880, Edward Pickard Hall, then responsible for printing Bibles at the Press, had compiled a list of the ‘Evaporative power of Different Coals’ in a notebook and had concluded that ‘Nixon’s Steam Navigation’ at 13.45 was distinctly more efficient than ‘Wyekam’ coal at 11.42.

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Volume, variety, and online scholarly publishing

By John Louth
One of the questions we are asked most frequently as university press editors is whether and how our work has changed to accommodate digital publishing. That can be taken to refer to a wide range of changes, but if we mean the digital publication of scholarly monographs, the answer, thankfully, is “not much”.

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Are we there yet?

By Elizabeth Knowles
Dictionary projects can famously, and sometimes fatally, overrun. In the nineteenth century especially, dictionaries for the more recondite foreign languages of past and present (from Coptic to Sanskrit) were compiled by independent scholars, enthusiasts who were ready to dedicate their lives to a particular project.

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What was inside the first Canadian branch building?

By Thorin Tritter
I wrote before about the picture that serves as the cover for the chapter on Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in Volume 3 of the newly published History of Oxford University Press. I personally enjoy looking at this type of picture and trying to imagine what went on inside.

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Looking for clues about OUP Canada in an early photograph

By Thorin Tritter
I had the pleasure of writing the chapter about Oxford University Press’s early operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand for volume three of the new History of Oxford University Press. A photo editor added an early photograph of the first home to the Canadian branch as the cover image for my chapter. It is a photograph I have seen before, but to be honest, I had previously not looked at it very closely.

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Google Books is fair use

By Maurizio Borghi and Stavroula Karapapa
After almost a decade of litigation, on 14 November the Southern District Court of New York has ruled on the class action Authors Guild v Google. Judge Chin, who had rejected in March 2011 the agreement proposing to settle the case, found that the activities carried out in the context of the Google Books project do not infringe copyright.

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From radio to YouTube

By Cynthia B. Meyers
AT&T has produced a teen reality program, @summerbreak—seen not on TV but on social media platforms, such as Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr. General Electric is sponsoring articles in the magazine The Economist. And Pepsico has a blog site, Green- Label, devoted to skateboarding, rap music, and other interests of “millennial males.”

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‘Paul Pry’ at midnight

By Simon Eliot
Until the 1840s time in Oxford, and therefore at the University Press, was five minutes behind that of London. With no uniform national time until the coming of the railways and the telegraph, the sealed clocks carried by mail coaches would have to be adjusted to Oxford or London time as they were shuttled between the two cities.

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Who is Pope Francis?

By Alyssa Bender
Pope Francis hasn’t been the Pope for even a year, and he has been selected as Time magazine’s Person of the Year. How well do you know this news-making Pope? Take our quiz to test your knowledge.

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University libraries and the e-books revolution

By Luke Swindler
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Libraries, it took well over a century, from the university’s founding in 1789, to reach a collection of one million volumes. In the last five years alone, the campus has added nearly one million “volume-equivalents”, mainly due to massive e-book acquisitions.

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Ink, stink, and sweetmeats

By Simon Eliot
All powered printing machines needed an effective means of inking type at speed. In most cases this was done by the use of rollers. The earliest prototypes had been covered with leather but, as a sheet of leather had to be joined to create covering for a cylinder, there was always a sewn seam that did not distribute the ink evenly.

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Election 2015: ‘Don’t vote, it just encourages the b**tards’

By Matthew Flinders
Without a whistle or a bang from a starter’s gun, the 2015 general election campaign is now well under way. Labour’s proposed freeze on energy prices marks a first tentative attempt to seize the pre-election agenda, while the Chancellor’s autumn statement next month looks set to respond by including measures aimed at cutting the cost of living.

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Editing the classics, past and present

By Judith Luna
Actually, editing classics is just what I don’t do. My job can be a bit of a mystery to people who wonder whether I rephrase the occasional Jane Austen sentence, or improve Virginia Woolf’s punctuation. Most days I am looking for living authors, not dead ones: the editors and translators who are responsible for the introductions and notes, and who actually do make decisions about how best to present the texts for modern readers.

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The Richardsons: the worst of times at Oxford University Press?

By John Feather
From 1715 to 1758, Stephen and Zaccheus Richardson were successively the ‘Warehouse Keepers’ for Oxford University Press. The seemingly innocuous title conceals more than it reveals and yet is telling. In William Laud’s original vision of a university press at Oxford in the 1630s at the heart of the enterprise was to be an individual known as the ‘Architypographus’.

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Looking back: ten years of Oxford Scholarship Online

By Sophie Goldsworthy
Back in 2001, there was a whole host of reference products online, and journals were well down that digital road. But books? Who on earth would want to read a whole book online? When the idea that grew into Oxford Scholarship Online was first mooted, it faced a lot of scepticism, in-house as well as out.

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