Books don’t sell themselves

My paper titled ‘Books don’t sell themselves’: trends in the marketing strategies of Oxford University Press in Africa, 1970-2000’ has been accepted for this year’s European Business History Association Conference at Bocconi University, Milan in June.

The paper will highlight key innovations and trends in marketing by OUP in its African markets between 1970 and 2000, and will reflect on what OUP’s experience in Africa says generally about the development of marketing strategies in transnational businesses.

Factors which drove the evolution of OUP’s marketing strategies in Africa included the dramatic expansion in the range of OUP products, specifically the emergence of titles developed specifically for African markets and produced locally. OUP’s marketing strategies also evolved in response to the changing roles of education authorities and development agencies in purchasing books, to political developments, and to changes in the retail and distribution environment.

Examining developments across OUP’s markets in Africa allows us to reflect on similarities and differences between OUP’s strategies in each market and also enables us to make comparisons with the marketing strategies it pursued in its ‘home’ market, Britain. The paper thus provides an opportunity to examine the development of marketing strategies as well as the tensions between centralisation and local adaptation in a transnational company such as OUP