OUP's Very Short Introductions hit 400

OUP's Very Short Introductions hit 400

Oxford University Press (OUP) is publishing Knowledge (September, £7.99), the 400th title in its Very Short Introductions (VSI) series.

The VSI series launched in 1995 to fill a perceived gap for a general introduction series for intelligent readers. The series has sold more than seven million titles worldwide, according to OUP. Andrea Keegan, senior commissioning editor for VSI, said: “They’re for someone who’s interested in a subject but has no background knowledge, but they’re not as basic as a ‘For Dummies’ guide.”

The titles are limited to 35,000 words and aim to be authoritative and engaging. Keegan said: “They’re not just a primer or an A-Z of the subject, they’re supposed to be something a little bit different, a sophisticated take that allows the author to have a voice while making sure readers don’t feel dictated to.”

Knowledge is written by Jennifer Nagel, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. Keegan said: “Someone without any philosophical knowledge at all would be able to pick it up. It was very important for us that the 400th title was accessible.”

VSI also launched as an online subscription service last year, and OUP is currently working on “more bells and whistles” for the service, as well as a free app, which will have a chapter of each book alongside reading guides.  

To celebrate the 400th book, VSI is updating its bookshop spinners with promotional adverts as well as promoting an infographic about the series. It is also producing a free promotional title containing blog posts by VSI authors, available in September.