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BW Businessworld

‘We Want To Be India’s Oxford’

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Tim Barton, managing director, Global Academic Publishing, Oxford University Press (OUP), talks to BW’s Joe C. Mathew on publishing in India
Q: How do you rate India’s academic publishing industry? What provides an extra edge to OUP?
A: India’s publishing industry is astonishingly vibrant and varied. OUP’s contributions lie in providing both quality and service. The press’s rigorous review process ensures that our publications have been vetted by experts and assessed by scholars of high repute in India who are our delegates. We have established networks and resources that ensure our authors’ books reach various audiences, both within India and globally.
Q: How promising is India’s market for the global academic publishing division of OUP?
A: We are encouraged by the recent experiences in expanding our publishing in India. We have been aggressively adding resources across our editorial, marketing, and sales functions, and are taking steps to ensure that our Indian authors benefit from the advantages that come with being an Oxford author. OUP is already a well known and respected imprint here, but we are still seeking out options to make its experience a better one. OUP will always behave like a 100-year-old startup, with a focus on the needs of Indian authors and customers. We want to be India’s Oxford, not simply Oxford India.
Q: What are the challenges India poses?
A: India poses the same challenges as any other country. Frankly speaking, authors and readers want the same thing — excellent, well-produced books that are accessibly priced — and we know how to publish well. While we are not complacent about the challenges that piracy poses, our current emphasis is on building our business by doing the best possible job. 
Q: Will allying with Indian universities work as a business strategy?
A: OUP often collaborates with universities on their research dissemination priorities. We enjoy fruitful relationships with university centres, and are keen to explore in India. It needs a mutual benefit to such alliances, where the union creates value for both, mainly, for our constituents. 
Q: How fast is the growth of digital products?
A: At Oxford, we believe print and digital go hand in hand, and publishers should strive to be ‘format-agnostic’, meaning that we provide the works of our authors in a manner preferred by readers. This can be an expensive proposition for a publisher, so we need to time our expansion into various formats with the development of the market. Print is a wonderful, durable technology that has served us well for centuries but, we can’t underestimate the benefits digital can provide for researchers and readers.
(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 04-05-2015)