Cambridge University Press

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Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press logo.svg
Parent company Cambridge University Press & Assessment
StatusDepartment of the University of Cambridge
Founded1534;490 years ago (1534)
Founder King Henry VIII of England
Country of origin Kingdom of England (since 1534)
Headquarters location Cambridge, England
Key people
Nonfiction topicsHumanities; social sciences; science; medicine; engineering and technology; English language teaching and learning; education; Bibles
Fiction genres
  • Academic
  • Educational
Imprints Cambridge University Press
RevenueIncrease2.svg £1 billion (2022) [2] (Reported for Cambridge University Press & Assessment)
No. of employees6,100 (2022) [2]
Official website
Logo on the front cover of "The Victorian Age by William Ralph Inge" used by Cambridge University Press Cambridge Press Cover Emblem.jpg
Logo on the front cover of "The Victorian Age by William Ralph Inge" used by Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press is the university press of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the oldest university press in the world. It is also the King's Printer. [3]


Cambridge University Press is a department of the University of Cambridge and is both an academic and educational publisher. It became part of Cambridge University Press & Assessment, following a merger with Cambridge Assessment in 2021. With a global sales presence, publishing hubs, and offices in more than 40 countries, it publishes over 50,000 titles by authors from over 100 countries. [4] Its publishing includes more than 420 academic journals, monographs, reference works, school and university textbooks, and English language teaching and learning publications. [5] It also publishes Bibles, runs a bookshop in Cambridge, sells through Amazon, and has a conference venues business in Cambridge at the Pitt Building and the Sir Geoffrey Cass Sports and Social Centre.

Being part of the University of Cambridge gives Cambridge University Press a non-profit status.


Cambridge University Press head office in Cambridge Cambridge University Press building.jpg
Cambridge University Press head office in Cambridge
Cambridge University Press building in Cambridge Cambridge University Press building2.jpg
Cambridge University Press building in Cambridge

Cambridge University Press is the oldest university press in the world. It originated from letters patent granted to the University of Cambridge by Henry VIII in 1534. Cambridge is one of the two privileged presses (the other being Oxford University Press). Authors published by Cambridge have included John Milton, William Harvey, Isaac Newton, Bertrand Russell, and Stephen Hawking. [6]

University printing began in Cambridge when the first practising University Printer, Thomas Thomas, set up a printing house in 1584. [7] The first publication was a book, Two Treatises of the Lord His Holie Supper. [8] [9] In 1591 the first Cambridge Bible was printed by John Legate and in 1629 Cambridge folio edition of the King James Bible was printed by Thomas and John Buck. [8] [9]

In July 1697, the Duke of Somerset made a loan of £200 to the university "towards the printing house and press" and James Halman, Registrary of the university, lent £100 for the same purpose. [10]

A new home for the press, The Pitt Building, on Trumpington Street in the centre of Cambridge was completed in 1833, which was designed by Edward Blore. It became a listed building in 1950. [11]

In the early 1800s, the press pioneers the development of stereotype printing, allowing successive printings from one setting. [12] [8] The press began using steam-powered machine presses by the 1850s. It was in this period that the press turned down what later became the Oxford English Dictionary – a proposal for which was brought to Cambridge by James Murray before he turned to Oxford. [6]

The press journals publishing programme began in 1893 with the Journal of Physiology and then the Journal of Hygiene and Biometrika. By 1910 the press had become a well-established journal publisher with a successful list which includes its first humanities title, Modern Language Review . 1956 saw the first issue of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics .

The press has published 170+ Nobel Prize winners, the first in 1895.

In 1913, the Monotype system of hot-metal mechanised typesetting was introduced at the press.

In 1949, the press opened its first international branch in New York. [7]

The press moved to its current site in Cambridge in 1963. The mid-century modern building, University Printing House, was constructed in 1961–1963. The building was designed by Beard, Bennett, Wilkins and Partners. [13]

In 1975, the press launched its English language teaching publishing business. [14]

In 1981, the press moved to a new site on Shaftsbury Road. The Edinburgh Building was purpose-built with an adjoining warehouse to accommodate the press's expansion. It was built in 1979–80 by International Design and Construction. [13] This site was sold to Cambridge Assessment in 2015 for the construction of the Triangle Building.[ citation needed ]

In 1986, the press acquired the long-established Bible and prayer-book publisher Eyre & Spottiswoode, which gave the press the ancient and unique title of The Queen's Printer. [9]

In 1992, the press opened a bookshop at 1 Trinity Street, Cambridge, which is the oldest-known bookshop site in Britain as books have been sold there since 1581. [15] In 2008 the shop expanded into 27 Market Hill where its specialist Education and English Language Teaching shop opened the following year.[ citation needed ] The press bookshop sells Press books as well as Cambridge souvenirs such as mugs, diaries, bags, postcards, maps. [16]

In 1993, the Cass Centre was opened to provide sports and social facilities for employees and their families. [13]

In 1999, Cambridge Dictionaries Online was launched. [14]

In 2012, the press sold its printing operation to MPG Books Group [17] and now uses third parties around the world to provide its print publications.

In 2019, the press released a new concept in scholarly publishing through Cambridge Elements where authors whose works are either too short to be printed as a book or too long to qualify as a journal article could have these published within 12 weeks. [18]

In 2021, Cambridge University Press merged with Cambridge Assessment. The new organisation is called Cambridge University Press & Assessment. [19] [20] [21]

In 2022, Amira Bennison was elected chair of the Cambridge University Press academic committee, replacing Kenneth Armstrong. [22]

Named Printers at Cambridge University Press [23]
Thomas Thomas15831588

John Legate

1588before 1593

John Porter

before 15931606

Cantrell Legge

1606before 1608

Thomas Brooke

before 16081622

Thomas Buck


John Buck


Francis Buck


Roger Daniel


John Legate


John Field


Matthew Whinn


John Hayes


John Peck


Hugh Martin


James Jackson


H Jenkes


Jonathan Pindar


Cornelius Crownfield


Mary Fenner, Thomas & John James


Joseph Bentham


John Baskerville


John Archdeacon


John Burges


John Deighton


Andrew Wilson


John Smith


John William Parker


George Seeley


Charles John Clay


John Clay


Charles Felix Clay


James Bennet Peace


Walter Lewis


Brooke Crutchley


Euan Phillips


Harris Myers


Geoffrey Cass


Philip Allin


Geoffrey Cass


Anthony K Wilson


Jeremy Mynott


Stephen Bourne


Peter Phillips




Current publications

Open access

Cambridge University Press has stated its support for a sustainable transition to open access. [24] It offers a range of open access publishing options under the heading of Cambridge Open, allowing authors to comply with the Gold Open Access and Green Open Access requirements of major research funders. It publishes Gold Open Access journals and books and works with publishing partners such as learned societies to develop Open Access for different communities. It supports Green Open Access (also called Green archiving) across its journals and monographs, allowing authors to deposit content in institutional and subject-specific repositories. It also supports sharing on commercial sharing sites through its Cambridge Core Share service.

In recent years it has entered into several Read & Publish Open Access agreements with university libraries and consortia in several countries, including a landmark agreement with the University of California. [25] [26] In its 2019 Annual Report, Cambridge University Press stated that it saw such agreements "as an important stepping stone in the transition to Open Access". [27]

In 2019, the press joined with the University of Cambridge's research and teaching departments to give a unified response to Plan S, which calls for all publications resulting from publicly funded research to be published in compliant open access journals or platforms from 2020. The response emphasized Cambridge's commitment to an open access goal which works effectively for all academic disciplines, is financially sustainable for institutions and high-quality peer review, and which leads to an orderly transition. [28]

The press is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association and the International Association of STM Publishers.

In 2023, more than 50 per cent of Cambridge University Press research articles are in open access mode. [29]

Nobel prize winners published by Cambridge University Press

Organisational governance and operational structure

Relationship with the University of Cambridge

The Pitt Building in Cambridge, which used to be the headquarters of Cambridge University Press, is now a conference venue Pitt Building Picture 21 07 2010.jpg
The Pitt Building in Cambridge, which used to be the headquarters of Cambridge University Press, is now a conference venue

Cambridge University Press is a non-teaching department of the University of Cambridge. The press has, since 1698, been governed by the press 'Syndics' (originally known as the 'Curators'), [31] 18 senior members of the University of Cambridge who, along with other non-executive directors, bring a range of subject and business expertise. [32] The chair of the syndicate is currently Professor Stephen Toope (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge). The syndicate has delegated its powers to a Press & Assessment Board; and to an Academic Publishing Committee and an English Language Teaching & Education Publishing Committee. [33]

The Press & Assessment Board is responsible for setting overarching strategic direction. [33] The Publishing Committees provide quality assurance and formal approval of the publishing strategy. [33]

The operational responsibility of the press is delegated by the Syndics to the secretary of the syndicate and chief executive.

In 2020 the university announced its decision to merge Cambridge University Press with Cambridge Assessment. [19]

Operational structure

Until August 2021, Cambridge University Press had three publishing groups:

From 1 August 2021 onwards, Cambridge University Press became solely the academic and bible publishing division of Cambridge University Press & Assessment. With the English and education arms of the organisation forming new, merged divisions with the equivalent departments of Cambridge Assessment.

Cambridge University Press partnerships and acquisitions

Digital developments

Cambridge University Press sign at the Cambridge HQ Cambridge University Press sign.jpg
Cambridge University Press sign at the Cambridge HQ

In 2011, Cambridge University Press adopted SAP. Cambridge University Press works closely with IT services firm Tech Mahindra on SAP, and with Cognizant and Wipro on other systems. [41] [42]

In 2016, Cambridge Books Online and Cambridge Journals Online were replaced by Cambridge Core – a single platform to access its publishing ("the home of academic content from Cambridge University Press" [43] ). It provided significantly enhanced interfaces and upgraded navigation capabilities, as well as article-level and chapter-level content selection. [44] A year after Cambridge Core went live, the press launched Cambridge Core Share, functionality to allow users to generate and share links with free access to selected journal articles, an early sign of the press's commitment to open research. [45]

In 2020, partnered with online library Perlego to offer students access to digital textbooks. [39]

In 2021, the press acquired CogBooks. The technology adapts and responds to users, "recommending course material needed to optimise learning". [46]

In 2021, the press began migrating its website onto Drupal. [47]


Tax exemption controversy

In May 1940, CUP applied to the Inland Revenue for the exemption of its printing and publishing profits from taxation, equivalent to charitable status. After a November 1940 Inland Revenue hearing, CUP's application was refused "on the ground that, since the Press was printing and publishing for the outside world and not simply for the internal use of the University, the Press's trade went beyond the purpose and objects of the University and (in terms of the Act) was not exercised in the course of the actual carrying out of a primary purpose of the University". [48] In November 1975, with CUP facing financial collapse, [49] CUP's chief executive Geoffrey Cass wrote a 60-page "preliminary letter" to the Inland Revenue again seeking tax-exemption. A year later Cass's application was granted in a letter from the Inland Revenue, though the decision was not made public. [50] [51] After consulting CUP, Cambridge's 'sister' press, the giant Oxford University Press presented their own submission and received similar exemption. In 2003 OUP's tax-exemption was publicly attacked by Joel Rickett of The Bookseller in The Guardian . [52] In 2007, with the new 'public benefit' requirement of the revised Charities Act, the issue was re-examined [53] with particular reference to the OUP. [54] In 2008 CUP's and OUP's privilege was attacked by rival publishers. [55] [56] In 2009 The Guardian invited author Andrew Malcolm to write an article on the subject. [57]

Alms for Jihad

In 2007, controversy arose over the press's decision to destroy all remaining copies of its 2006 book Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World , by Burr and Collins, as part of the settlement of a lawsuit brought by Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz. [58] Within hours, Alms for Jihad became one of the 100 most sought after titles on and eBay in the United States. The press sent a letter to libraries asking them to remove copies from circulation. The press subsequently sent out copies of an "errata" sheet for the book.

The American Library Association issued a recommendation to libraries still holding Alms for Jihad: "Given the intense interest in the book, and the desire of readers to learn about the controversy first hand, we recommend that U.S. libraries keep the book available for their users." The publisher's decision did not have the support of the book's authors and was criticized by some who claimed it was incompatible with freedom of speech and with freedom of the press and that it indicated that English defamation laws were excessively strict. [59] [60] In the New York Times Book Review (7 October 2007), United States Congressman Frank R. Wolf described Cambridge's settlement as "basically a book burning". [61] The press pointed out that, at that time, it had already sold most of its copies of the book.

The press defended its actions, saying it had acted responsibly and that it is a global publisher with a duty to observe the laws of many different countries. [62]

Cambridge University Press v. Patton

In this case, originally filed in 2008, CUP et al. accused Georgia State University of infringement of copyright. [63] The case closed on 29 September 2020, with GSU as the prevailing party. [64]

The China Quarterly

On 18 August 2017, following an "instruction" from a Chinese import agency, Cambridge University Press used the functionality that had been built into Cambridge Core to temporarily delete politically sensitive articles from The China Quarterly on its Chinese website. The articles focused on topics China regards as taboo, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong's fight for democracy, and ethnic tensions in Xinjiang and Tibet. [65] [66] [67] [ self-published source? ] [68] On 21 August 2017, in the face of growing international protests, Cambridge University Press announced it would immediately repost the articles to uphold the principle of academic freedom on which the university's work is founded. [69] [70]

The Cambridge Handbook of Privatization

In February 2021, the forthcoming Cambridge Handbook of Privatization was found to have included a chapter by John Mark Ramseyer in which he described Koreans murdered in the Kantō Massacre as "gangs" that "torched buildings, planted bombs, [and] poisoned water supplies". Editors Avihay Dorfman and Alon Harel acknowledged the historical distortions of the chapter, but gave Ramseyer a chance to revise. Harel described the inclusion of the original chapter as an "innocent and very regrettable" mistake on the part of the editors. [71] [72]

Corporate social responsibility

Cambridge University Press's stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018 Cambridge University Press's stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018.jpg
Cambridge University Press's stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018


The press undertakes community engagement in Cambridge and around the world where there are Press employees. Annually, the press selects a UK Charity of the Year, which has included local charities Centre 33 (2016 and 2017), Rowan Humberstone (2018), and Castle School (2019). In 2016, some of the press's community works included its continued support to Westchester Community College in New York, the installation of hygienic facilities in an Indonesian rural school, raising funds to rehabilitate earthquake-stricken schools in Nepal, and guiding students from Coleridge Community College, Cambridge in a CV workshop. On World Book Day 2016, the press held a digital Shakespeare publishing workshop for students and their teachers. Similarly, their Indian office conducted a workshop for teachers and students in 17 schools in Delhi to learn the whole process of book publishing. The press donated more than 75,000 books in 2016. [73]

An apprenticeship program for people interested in careers in publishing was established in 2016 [74] by 2022 it had 200 active apprentices in the UK in a wide range of roles. [75] [76]


The press monitors its emissions annually, has converted to energy-saving equipment, minimizes plastic use and ensures that their paper is sourced ethically. [77]

In 2019, the World Wildlife Fund awarded its highest score to the press of Three Trees, based on the press's timber purchasing policy, performance statement and its responsible sourcing of timber. [78] The press works hard to minimise the number of books that are sent for pulping each year.[ citation needed ]

The press won the Independent Publishers Guild Independent Publishing Awards for sustainability in 2020 and in 2021. [79] [80] Its public commitments to sustainability include being a signatory of the UN Global Compact [81] and to the goals of the Cambridge Zero initiative run by the University of Cambridge – to being carbon zero on all energy-related emissions by 2048. [82]

Cambridge University Press is a signatory of the SDG Publishers Compact, [83] [84] and has taken steps to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the publishing industry. These include publishing a new set of open access journals known as Cambridge Prisms, relevant to the SDGs, that includes Coastal Futures, Precision Medicine, Global Mental Health, Extinction, Plastics, Water and Drylands. [85] Cambridge also worked with the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) to create the University Press Redux Sustainability Award in 2020. [86] The inaugural award was given to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for its SDG Pathfinder, an open-access digital discovery tool for finding content and data relating to the SDGs. [87] [88]

Related Research Articles

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  • Anonymous; The Student's Guide to the University of Cambridge. Third Edition, Revised and Partly Re-written; Deighton Bell, 1874 (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009; ISBN   978-1-108-00491-6)
  • Anonymous; War Record of the Cambridge University Press 1914–1919; Cambridge University Press, 1920; (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009; ISBN   978-1-108-00294-3)
  • A History of Cambridge University Press, Volume 1: Printing and the Book Trade in Cambridge, 1534–1698; McKitterick, David; 1992; ISBN   978-0-521-30801-4
  • A History of Cambridge University Press, Volume 2: Scholarship and Commerce, 1698–1872; McKitterick, David; 1998; ISBN   978-0-521-30802-1
  • A History of Cambridge University Press, Volume 3: New Worlds for Learning, 1873–1972; McKitterick, David; 1998; ISBN   978-0-521-30803-8
  • A Short History of Cambridge University Press; Black, Michael; 2000; ISBN   978-0-521-77572-4
  • Cambridge University Press 1584–1984; Black, Michael, foreword by Gordon Johnson; 2000; ISBN   978-0-521-66497-4, Hardback ISBN   978-0-521-26473-0

52°11′18″N0°07′55″E / 52.1882°N 0.1320°E / 52.1882; 0.1320