OPuS (Oxford Publishing Society) was founded in 1997 to bring together the whole publishing community in the Oxford area. The founding members were Blackwell Publishing, Elsevier Science Ltd, Learned Information Europe Ltd, Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies, and Signpost Books. Since then, some of the founding members have been acquired or merged with others, but most are still in membership.
From the beginning the intention was to provide a forum for the full spectrum of publishing activity in the Oxford area, in numbers second only to London, so membership was open across all publishing areas (academic, schools, trade, journals) and media (print, digital, partworks, subscription); it was also open to all organisations providing publishing services, e.g. printers and legal firms, website developers and freelancers. As it included the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies at Oxford Brookes University, all publishing students (undergraduate and postgraduate) were members and eligible to attend all events.
Since 1997 OPuS has organised at least five industry-focused events every year across a wide range of topics events: for example,
- digital technology in the education market (June 1999)
- on-demand printing and ebooks (February 2001)
- the author and the agent (April 2002) and authors and editors (June 2003)
- agents and aggregators in journals publishing (November 2004)
- self publishing (May 2006)
- children's publishing (November 2007)
- non-profit publishing (April 2009)
- social media and social networking (March 2010)
- career progression (April 2010)
- bookselling (October 2010)
- ELT publishing (May 2011)
- discoverability (May 2012).
There have been sessions on international markets (April 2008) and events focusing on individual countries or regions: China, India, Eastern Europe, Brazil. Author events in midsummer have featured authors and their publishing counterparts (editors or marketing staff) as varied as Pam Ayres, Carmen Callil, John Carey, Michael Frayn, John Mitchinson, Philip Pullman, and Joanna Trollope.
OPuS events are free to members, except for the annual international party, where a moderate charge is made to cover costs.
The aim of OPuS events has always been to offer windows into all aspects of the publishing world – to enable people working in one area to know more
about other aspects of the business, and so develop a broader appreciation of the ecology of publishing. Because of links with the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies there is a steady stream of enormously enthusiastic undergraduate and postgraduate students attending events, posing the questions about established practices that need to be asked.
OPuS events normally start with an hour's "wine and nibbles" for catching up with colleagues, contacts, and industry gossip, and seizing the chance to discuss career opportunities, work placements, or internships within the industry.
Events are held in Brookes venues (lecture theatres, seminar rooms, or the grandeur of Headington Hill Hall, in a room that was once Robert Maxwell's office, so has some publishing ghosts lurking in the architrave).