This major national and international scholarly project, which was inaugurated on 1 January 2006, is a co-operative venture between Oxford University Press and the Institute of English Studies. Its General Editor is Professor Simon Eliot who holds chair in the History of the Book in the Institute.
The History will consist of four volumes which will cover the following periods:
- Volume I 1478-1780s
- Volume II 1780s-1890s
- Volume III 1890s-1960s
- Volume IV 1960s-2000
Each volume will be edited by a distinguished scholar in the field and will consist of chapters written by that scholar and specialists in book history, social and economic history, history of scholarship and the history of science and technology.
Oxford University Press will be funding the equivalent of six years of postdoctoral fellowships in order to provide the fundamental research on which the History will be based. These fellowships will most likely be divided up in the following way:
- A three-year postdoctoral fellowship on the economic and business history of the Press.
- A one-year postdoctoral fellowship on the impact of technological and communications revolutions on the Press.
- A one-year postdoctoral fellowship on the origins and development of OUP's branches in the USA and Canada.
- A one-year postdoctoral fellowship on the origins and development of OUP's branches in South East Asia.
In addition, the project will establish a major Book History research seminar series focusing, though not exclusively so, on the History. This involves members of the History and English faculties at Oxford, and members of the Institute of Historical Research and the Institute of English Studies in the School of Advanced Study in the University of London. Monthly meetings are held alternately in Oxford and London and are open to all.