Publishing industry response to COVID-19

From fast-tracking crucial research to supporting remote learning, publishers are responding to COVID-19.

The following is a summary of actions taken by publishers throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Under each heading, you will find a summary and examples of specific areas of activity from academic, consumer and education publishers. If you would like to learn more about any of the following initiatives or add examples to this resource, please get in touch with Eliza: ekavanagh@publishers.org.uk.

Academic publishing

Many of our members have made vital research and data related to the COVID-19 outbreak immediately available and freely accessible online and many are signatories of the Wellcome Trust Coronavirus consensus statement.

Our academic members are also working with the White House Office of Science and Technology to make all relevant global research immediately available in one place (such as the National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories such as the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID database).

Centralising academic research on COVID-19 online

Many publishers have centralised and made freely available all relevant research related to the coronavirus online, including content from online resources and leading journals, to assist researchers, medical professionals, policy makers and others who are working to address the pandemic.

F1000Research has created a dedicated Gateway to showcase research published in this area, including preprints, to ensure immediate access to the latest research developments. Springer Nature are also working with the Allen Institute for AI to enable their content to be used in their Semantic Scholar application and by the wider scientific community.

Wellcome Trust Coronavirus consensus statement

Many publishers (Oxford University Press, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis,  Wiley and SAGE) are signatories of the Wellcome Trust consensus statement to share research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Working with the White House Office of Science and Technology

Major academic publishers (including Elsevier, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley) are working closely with the White House Office of Science and Technology, responding to the call for all COVID-19 related research and data to be made immediately available.

Many have done so via PubMed Central, the archive of biomedical and life science at the US National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine. and other publicly funded repositories such as the WHO COVID database. All this information is open for full text and data mining and without any limitations for as long as needed while the public health emergency is ongoing.

Academic publishers have also prioritised the rapid publication of COVID-19 related research materials to accelerate access to the latest knowledge for researchers.

  • Elsevier has asked their (internal and external) editors to deposit relevant manuscripts to the WHO at the stage of submission, cutting back on review time, and accelerating access to latest knowledge for researchers.
  • Taylor & Francis are working with editors to prioritise peer review of all relevant research and focusing their workflow to fast track materials related to the outbreak through the publication process. Editors are also proactively encouraging authors to publish and share the data that forms the basis of their research in line with FAIR data principles, and Taylor & Francis’s own data policies.

To support remote learning, academic publishers have also granted free access to many online resources for students and academic staff. This includes free online textbooks and online learning solutions. Academic publishers are also continually in contact with library staff to ensure their institutions have sufficient access to online resources.

Making textbooks and learning materials freely available online

Many publishers are working to ensure that students (who no longer have access to physical library resources because their campus is closed) can access core textbooks online.

  • Cambridge University Press has made higher education textbooks freely available online in HTML format to support universities and their students. More than 700 textbooks, published and currently available on Cambridge Core (the online home for CUP academic books and journals) are available online to students through their university library regardless of whether they were previously purchased.
  • Oxford University Press is endeavouring to support students, academics, and lecturers with a range of free online resources. They are providing temporary free access to OUP eBooks for students via RedShelfand VitalSource in the US, and Kortext and BibliU in the UK.
  • Pearson is giving Universities in the UK and Ireland free access to a core range of HE and English language online resourcesincluding: a range of key digital textbooks in collaboration with a number of eBook platforms; online learning, homework, tutorial and assessment courseware; the digital components of New Language Leader (a five-level English Language course for use on pre-sessional courses); as well as a FREE trial of Pearson Versant English Placement Test, with a reduced price for new users until the end of the academic year. For FE Colleges, Pearson is providing 90-days free access to online learning resources, including digital Textbook bundles (available via the ActiveLearn platform) for level 2 and 3 general and vocational qualifications.
  • Springer Nature’s online platforms including link.springer.com , nature.com and biomedcentral.com remain fully available and ready to support the increasing numbers of researchers, student and faculty working from remote locations.
  • Taylor & Francis are providing free access to ebooks through partnerships with VitalSource, Kortext (in conjunction with JISC), and Red Shelf through the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.
  • Wiley has made access to their online learning solutions, such as WileyPLUS, Knewton Alta or zyBooks, free for instructors that don’t already have one and offered them free access for their students for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term. Instructors teaching at impacted institutions can request access to WileyPLUS or Knewton Alta here; instructors looking for zyBooks access can apply here. For current WileyPLUS and Knewton Alta instructors, Customer Success Specialists are equipped to provide additional support, including extension of due dates, adjusting assignments or increasing the capacity to work remotely. Wiley is also partnering with organizations, like VitalSource, RedShelf, Barnes & Noble, and Follet, to offer most academic eTextbooks free to students whose classes have moved online. They are also partnering with global library vendors ProQuest, Ebsco, and Askews to allow unrestricted user access to Wiley content. And Wiley Efficient Learning is offering free CPA, CMA, and CFA course access to new instructors and students for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term.
  • SAGE has opened up access to a range of resources to ensure students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will have free access to digital learning materials through the remainder of the spring 2020 term.
  • Elsevier has granted access for all active ScienceDirect customers (including those journals customers who do not currently have books) to the 326 textbooks currently on ScienceDirect for 90 days. To further support library users’ access to ScienceDirect content remotely, they have implemented Campus-Activated Subscriber Access (CASA) for all institutions participating in Google Scholar’s Subscriber links program.

Practical support and guidance on elearning

  • Cengage is offering free access to their digital solutions until the end of June. This includes MindTap for a range of disciplines; SAM for Microsoft Office skills; WebAssign for maths, physics and engineering disciplines; OWLv2 for chemistry; and CengageNOW for courses in business and management, finance, accounting, decision sciences, and psychology. These can be integrated into LMS for simple, centralised access to course content. They contain tools and materials, such as ebooks, multimedia resources, practice questions, assessment materials and revision aids. Instructors can remotely track student progress via analytics and gradebook features, and MindTap’s virtual classroom app Bongo allows instructors to host live, interactive class sessions with students. More information, help and support resources are being added to Cengage’s customer support page including dates and times about their peer-to-peer webinars and pre-recorded webinars on virtual teaching strategies. To find out more about digital learning solutions and support, please email HigherEdMarketing@cengage.com.
  • Oxford University Press have published a number of blogs to provide practical support and guidance, as well as useful insights on remote learning, getting started with online teaching and tips to engage and motivate students. They have made access to online training programmes Teaching Online and Blended Learning free for university lecturers and staff.
  • Pearson is regularly publishing free blogs, videos, webinars, online events and other resources to provide help, information and best practice guidance for staff and students who may be new to virtual teaching and learning. Updated regularly, this content will help collegesand universities plan, prepare and rise above the challenges of COVID-19.
  • Springer Nature has created a dedicated page to provide guidance and assistance.
  • Wiley Education Services is offering expanded partner support, which includes providing additional technology licenses and assistance with course production and associated LMS support, as well as virtual office hours to support educators who must rapidly transition to virtual instruction. Advancement Courses is providing a free micro-course, Launching Online Learning, for K-12 educators to quickly ramp-up online learning in their environment. To make the adaptation to online learning as easy as possible, Wiley is providing free resources and webinars for all instructors.
  • Elsevier have published a guide on how to get remote access to Elsevier solutions such as ScienceDirect, Scopus Elsevier and Reaxy’s. Webcasts have been set up to showcase how to utilise the remote access.

Helping libraries with remote access for users

  • Publishers (Oxford University Press, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis) are working with their library customers to assist them in securing remote access for their users. Springer Nature have implemented the SeamlessAccess experience on com and are contacting libraries who don’t have the required technology in place, or want to update their remote access method, to ensure users’ access to content is not interrupted in any way.
  • Following a call from the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC), Springer Nature are working to keep users logged in for 90 days (can be extended) after their initial authentication, reducing the impact on an institution’s VPN and ensuring researchers can continue to get access to content when they need it.

Publishers are ensuring that medical, media and legal professionals have access to high quality, up-to-date information about coronavirus.

  • Elsevier’s medical journal The Lancet has created its own Coronavirus Resource Centre to assist health workers and researchers. This free resource brings together new 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) content from across The Lancet journals as it is published.
  • LexisNexis (RELX) has launched a dedicated COVID-19 page containing breaking news, in-depth features and expert analysis and commentary on all things relating to COVID-19 and the law. The free content is available at law360.com/coronavirus or delivered via an electronic newsletter.
  • Springer Nature has made access to COVID-19-related content on its websites (including nursing.nlzorgvisie.nl, springermedizin.de, and springerprofessional.de) free for medical professionals. The Ärztezeitung is providing updates for GPs on the latest COVID-19 developments on a daily basis and twice a week in its print edition. And Springer Nature are publishing CME (certificate medical education) training articles about COVID-19 in print and online. SpringerNature is also ensuring access to good, fact-based journalistic and opinion content on this fast-moving public health issue in Nature (for researchers and research leaders) and Scientific American (for the broader public). Nature and Scientific American have also released podcasts from global experts on the pandemic and its development, and Nature Briefing continues to provide the latest research updates.

Consumer publishing

Consumer publishers have made many books and learning resources freely available online, to support home-schooling and to provide entertainment for socially-distancing customers.

Many consumer publishers have also partnered with charitable or not-for-profit organisations to make sure books and learning resources reach those in need. Partners include the Reading Agency, Book Trust, National Literacy Trust and Neighbourly.

  • Bonnier Books UK’s children’s division has published free online learning resources to help parents with home-schooling.
  • Faber has launched an online programme featuring a weekly schedule of authors reading, including extracts from children’s books. The platform will also provide resources for home schooling.
  • Pan Macmillan have waved their usual permissions so that authors and illustrators, teachers, parents, librarians and carers can read from their books in online read-alongs, and reach many families stuck at home. They have also published advice on how to keep the kids entertained indoors and the best activity books for kids.
  • Penguin Random House – Ladybird and Puffin Schools are providing free resources and content to support home-learning for primary school children, as well as making them easily accessible to partners, including the National Literacy Trust, BBC, Peanut and Twinkl to wider reach. For older students, the Penguin Talks programme connects young people with the world’s leading writers and thinkers from Michelle Obama to Margaret Atwood to Stormzy. Over the coming months, new remote livestreamed talks will be added to the collection.
  • Scholastic are sharing free activity and worksheet content via their social channels. They have set up a landing page where authors are sharing first chapter readings from their books and waiving copyright permissions for a limited time to allow story readings on social media. They are also working with Save the Children to provide books and permissions for the expansion of the Save With Stories campaign, supporting fundraising for disadvantaged families and children in the current crisis
  • Simon & Schuster UK’s children’s division is working with a range of reading partners to provide learning resources to children, including The Reading Agency and BookTrust, as well as asking authors to record a few minutes footage for ReadingZone on YouTube, as part of their daily book club for children aged 8-12 years. They will also be launching campaigns with Super Awesome, TES and Mumsnet to reach children and parents at home. They are also featuring free activity sheets, videos and online resources in their weekly emails to subscribers which are hosted on their website as free downloads. Those providing distance learning can livestream and post recordings of Simon & Schuster titles until 30th June. These recordings are saved in a children’s playlist on YouTube – pinned to the top of Simon & Schuster’s social profiles. Simon & Schuster have also extended free access to audio book titles until June. These include: The Boy Who Made the World Disappear, A Pinch of Magic, Rumblestar and Nothing to See Here Hotel. They are also promoting eBook price drops and sharing them across their relevant channels and enlisting S&S authors to create short videos of readings or draw-a-longs to be hosted as part of the #UnitedByBooks campaign.

In support of bookshops, consumer publishers have so far pledged financial support and promoted the importance of book buying on social media. Publishers will continue to work closely with the Booksellers Association to find other practical ways to support the bookselling industry.

  • Several publishers are temporarily allowing UK schools, libraries and bookshops to replicate live storytelling online. See each publisher for guidelines on sharing story time and read-aloud experiences online:
  • And Other Stories, Faber & Faber and Simon & Schuster UK are supporting indie bookshops with the hashtag #choosebookshops on their social medial channels.
  • And Other Stories has pledged to donate 20% of subscription sales to bookshops.
  • Bloomsbury is supporting indie bookshops by offering a referral incentive for Bloomsbury titles and sharing its ecommerce and distribution channels. Bookshops can direct their customers to Bloomsbury.com with a unique promotional code and Bloomsbury will credit 15% of that purchase price back to that specific bookshop.
  • Pan Macmillan is helping independent bookshops with financial support and with guidance on how to continue engaging with their communities through virtual events, story-time sessions, signed bookplates, social media assets and exclusive editions. They’ve also launched a book club with the hashtag #1PMread and are publishing online content on how to support independent bookshops. Picador commissioning editor Kishani Widyaratna was one of three people who launched a fundraiser for booksellers affected by the crisis.
  • Penguin Random House is working with the Booksellers Association to find practical solutions to support retail partners, including matching up to £50,000 in crowd-funded donations for the Book Trade Charity, which will go towards supporting booksellers in the UK and Ireland who have been affected by the crisis.
  • Scholastic have started a Twitter campaign to give a platform to independent bookshop’s online and telephone ordering services on their Twitter feed. They’ve also created a personalised pre-order social graphic for independent bookshops for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
  • Simon & Schuster UK are working closely with Libraries Connected to support librarians during closures and allowing more sharing of extracts over social media, such as reading a story aloud.

Authors and illustrators are the lifeblood of the publishing industry and making sure they are supported is of paramount importance to publishers at this time. Consumer publishers are therefore running several initiatives to this effect such as online book launches and maintaining talent discovery programmes for new and debut writers.

  • Penguin Random House are maintaining their commitment to WriteNow, their flagship programme to discover voices from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves. The programme remains openand there will be a digital workshop for 150 successful applicants in July to learn more about how to get published, and the chance to join our year-long mentoring programme.
  • Scholastic are delivering virtual launches for titles publishing in March and April. Authors and illustrators are invited to provide content for their new Chapter 1 landing page, and press mailings continue to be despatched via their warehouse after office closure.
  • Simon & Schuster UK children’s division is working with Authorfy to run online masterclasses and ten-minute challenges that authors and illustrators can record themselves. These are fun creative activities for children that allow authors and illustrators to make book announcements. Simon & Schuster has also made all children’s proof titles available on Netgalley (a website for proofs and unpublished manuscripts), as well as helping authors with their day-to-day work, including how to create shareable online content, a guide to social media, working with bookshops and reading organisations to host digital events with authors, and an author ‘events diary with an update of all digital launches, live readings and video partnerships. Simon & Schuster UK has moved all event and print activity online, including creating book plates for authors to sign in lieu of bookshop and stock signings. They are maintaining relationships with journalists, pitching authors for review coverage over Zoom and email.
  • Hachette UK are offering free ebooks to NHS workers during lockdown to thank everyone in the NHS who are working so hard to protect us during this crisis. NHS workers can go to their new website to receive their free ebook.
  • Hachette UK is working with Neighbourly, a corporate giving platform which connects companies to communities, to donate 12,000 books, which will be distributed to NHS Trusts, schools and community-based charitable initiatives across the UK, with the help of Hachette UK’s distribution team at Hely Hutchinson Centre.
  • Pan Macmillan’s author Joe Wicks is keeping kids fit with his daily YouTube workouts. All the money raised from advertising will go to support the NHS.
  • Penguin Random House are bringing forward a planned partnership with social enterprise Neighbourly to distribute thousands of books to those most impacted by COVID-19, including isolated and vulnerable individuals, and families reliant on food banks. The company has also introduced policies to enable colleagues to give up to three hours of work time a week to support people affected by the crisis (including responding to the government’s call for NHS Volunteer Responders).

Education publishing

Many education publishers have made primary, secondary and revision learning resources freely available online. These free resources include ebooks for students and interactive learning tools.

Ebooks and textbooks

  • Cambridge University Press has made almost all of its digital material free to schools for the next three months.
  • Collins Learning are enabling free access to textbooks in ebook format for schools that are already using its titles in the classroom so that pupils can continue their learning at home.
  • Hodder Education is offering all customers who have purchased print textbooks, digital versions free of charge for a year, using a simple-to-use web code. These can be accessed and downloaded (used offline) to any device. For non-customers, they are offering the Student eTextbooks free for three months.
  • Pearson are offering free access to their primary, secondary and revision digital resources for the duration of UK school closures. This will provide access to pupil-facing materials that can be shared via online lesson/for students to work on at home with their parent or carer. This includes access to hundreds of ebooks for primary children’s reading and online student books and revision guides to help students learn and revise.
  • Scholastic are currently offering a 50% discount on a range of such workbooks from Early Years Workbooks to market leading whole subject/year primary workbooks and test books, through to GCSE revisions guides.

Teaching resources

  • Bloomsbury Publishing’s Bloomsbury Early Years is an online library of other 2,500 activities for 0-5 year olds, all written by experienced early years practitioners and early years experts. This is usually offered on a subscription basis, but they will shortly be made freely available. There are also lots of online resources and activities ready to download for free for Early Years, Primary and Secondary.
  • Cambridge University Press have launched a campaign – Supporting Every Teacher – and in partnership with Cambridge Assessment English, they are producing large amounts of free, online content for teachers and learners. This content is available to the maximum number of people possible and it has been accessed by over 100,000 teachers worldwide in just one week. They have also compiled available online content into free-to-use bundles for different user groups in support of online courses and produced guides on how to use printed materials in a virtual classroom setting. Support is also available to provide help and guidance on moving to or using online and blended print and digital products.
  • Collins Learning are providing free access to Collins Connect, an online learning platform, for the length of the school closures. This platform is for both primary and secondary schools and is home to learning and teaching resources for a range of subjects including English, maths and science at all levels, as well as international curricula.
  • DK have a range of free learning resources online.
  • Hodder Education’s main digital services are already available with three-month free trial periods, including full content and functionality. The following resources from Rising Stars and RS Assessment are free for the first three-months: Reading Planet Online (over 500 KS1 and KS2 Reading Planet ebooks); Achieve SATs Success Online (an interactive revision tool covering 99 topics); Cracking Comprehension Online (key reading comprehension skills); and Question Bank (online bank of over 8,000 KS1 and KS2 questions).
  • Macmillan Education are making their digital components and resources available for free for both teachers and learners for as long as schools remain closed. They have also created the Distance Teaching and Learning Hub in partnership with NILE to provide teachers to easy access to expert information, practical e-lesson plans and a summary of the digital components available for their ELT courses.
  • Oxford University Press is offering free access to education platforms to help teachers, parents, and home-learners, including teaching and home learning support through MyMaths and Oxford Owl. Oxford Owl has hundreds of free learning activities for ages 4–11 including a free eBook library, SATs support and fun outdoor learning ideas.
  • Scholastic have a Reading Assessment program called Scholastic Reading Pro and Reading Pro Library (containing over 650 e-books to read – and then take a comprehension quiz about the book content), which would be ideal for children working remotely. To access Scholastic’s resources, users need to create a free Resource Bank account. They are also adding additional free home learning content to the 4000 free resources already available on Resource Bank, compiling ‘free digital home learning packs’ for EYFS, KS1, LKS2 and UKS2 age groups, and offering free premium membership resources for UK teachers on request.
  • WordUnited has created hundreds of free home learning resources available on its Free Resources Hub, including worksheets, activities, videos, home and classroom displays, to support independent learning, complement home learning and support the EYFS and KS1/KS2 National Curricula. Parents and teachers can contact resources@wordunited.com with requests to create free resources.
  • Twig Education are offering free access to their supplemental resources which cover science and geography for KS1 and KS2 and science, geography and maths for KS3 and KS4. The platforms include thousands of bespoke curriculum-aligned videos, supporting lesson materials, hands-on activities that can be done with limited resources and new independent study packs designed for distance learning. Twig Education has also been working internationally with MoEs to support their digital distance learning initiatives. Free access is available for students and teachers until the end of July.
  • Letterland is providing schools with free access to their web-based software, Phonics Online, for the duration of school closures. They have also listed over 100 free, downloadable resources on their website. This includes ideas and materials to aid distance learning, such as choice boards that teachers can share with parents/carers for students to pick an activity to do every day. All resources relate to literacy for Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

Education members are also assisting teachers and students as they move to remote learning. This help includes blogs and guides to learning from home, as well as online support networks. Also on offer is specific guidance for teachers in areas such as running virtual classrooms, lesson planning and professional development.

  • Bloomsbury Education will be sharing resources and ideas for educators every Tuesday and every Thursday on their Twitter There will be resources for Early Years, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and Secondary.
  • Cambridge University Press teams are also on hand to discuss individual needs, providing any help and guidance that may be needed in moving to or using online and blended print and digital products. Cambridge University Press’s Brighter Thinking bloghas tips and advice from teachers who have been affected and guidance for those facing or experiencing school closures; and Cambridge HOTmaths (an interactive online maths learning, teaching and assessment resource) will be rolled out for free shortly to tens of thousands of teachers across the UK.
  • Macmillan Education are providing online training opening to all teachers (whether or not they have previously been users of Macmillan Education resources) and work is being done to make these as interactive as possible, so that teachers can learn more about delivering lessons remotely as well as continuing their own professional development during this period.
  • Oxford University Press has created home learning guidance for English language teaching (ELT) and learning including links to blogs, course related content suitable for distance learning, and professional development content, alongside course material to maximise home-based learning and links to our latest Alexa skills. The language learning community can stay connected and up-to-date through OUP’s English Language Teaching Facebook networks and groups.
  • Pearson have pulled together a collection of useful guidance and tips for schools. This includes tips on choosing your virtual classroom, getting started with distance learning, and creating a supportive environment for your learners.
  • Scholastic have created digital issues of all Mary Glasgow magazines published since September 2019 to support language teachers and their students worldwide.
  • Letterland is providing schools with free access to their web-based software, Phonics Online, for the duration of school closures. This will allow students to access all the Letterland stories, songs and animations from home, in addition to phonics games and a whole set of online phonics readers. They have also listed over 100 free, downloadable resources on their website. This includes ideas and materials to aid distance learning. All resources relate to literacy for Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

Some education members are releasing guides for parents as they home-school their children. These include sample home-school planners, for example. Additionally, many members have released guidance on topics such as mindfulness and wellbeing, to help individuals through this uncertain and unusual time.

  • Bloomsbury Kids will be sharing key resources for parents on Monday and Fridays, with Harry Potter related content on Wednesdays.
  • BookLife are offering free access to their entire bank of downloadable resources for the duration of UK school closures. This includes the specially created title free ebook, Why Do I Wash My Hands. There are also hundreds of posters, worksheets and learning resources to that can be shared ready for online lessons or to work on at home with parents or carers.
  • Collins Learning are providing free resources and support to parents who have children at home on co.uk. This includes more than 300 e-books from its Big Cat reading programme, activity sheets, a times tables practice tool, revision and PDF downloads of many of its titles.
  • Oxford University Press are looking at what wider support we can offer to those teaching / learning remotely e.g. wellbeing, how to handle a crisis, teaching digitally/remotely.
  • Pearson are offering parents and carers who are looking after children and young people during school closures free support, activities, tools and advice on their parents and carers site. This includes sample home-school planners, primary reading and maths support, access to free eBooks at secondary, and much more. Pearson have also pulled together resources, including a video and webinars, that introduce you to mindfulness techniques that can be practiced at school or at home.
  • Scholastic are making home learning resource recommendations for parents via Facebook groups, Resource Bank homepage and Home Learning Hub; they have created a new Home Learning web landing page with resources and home learning titles to ease navigation for parents and a new Facebook group for parents and carers with tips, free downloads from our Education and activity titles, and author videos. They’ve also commissioned a blog post from Home Educator to assist parents with structure and planning for home schooling.
  • Letterland have reduced the price of all apps to £0.99/$0.99, and have listed over 100 free, downloadable resources on their website. This includes ideas and materials to support parents who are now home schooling, such as choice boards that teachers can share with parents/carers for students to pick an activity to do every day. All resources relate to literacy for Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.