The Russian National Library, St Petersburg. Image credit: Obuolys at the English language Wikipedia
Since the success of Information and Empire: Mechanisms of Communication in Russia 1600-1850 edited by Simon Franklin and Katherine Bowers, and our growing number of titles that focus on Russia-related topics, we have become interested in the growing use of OPB’s titles and Open Access resources more generally in Russia. Here’s what we found.
When it comes to internet usage, Russia keeps itself to itself. This is partly enforced by state censorship, the Russian government increasingly exploiting the Internet’s surveillance potential. New legislation in 2016, one of the so-called ‘Yarovaya Laws’, decreed internet providers must now record the content of users’ online communications, alongside the customary date, time and duration. These Data Retention Laws mean Western websites like LinkedIn are blocked – supposedly to protect the data of Russian citizens, but more likely to sweep it under the Kremlin’s thumb. Russian society is also fairly isolated from the West, due to the legacy of barriers both linguistic and ideological, and this is reflected in the popular rejection of Facebook in favour of a Russian equivalent. This Cyrillic doppelganger is called ‘VKontakte’ and is easily the most popular website in the country. So popular in fact, that one anthropologist described it as the only internet resource used by the ‘silent majority’ of Russians, with purely local friendship groups making it feel ‘as if the internet did not extend more than 40km in any direction’.
At Open Book Publishers, openness is at the heart of everything we do (the clue is in the name!) Recently, we’ve been working on how to present more data about our books on our website, in a more visually attractive way. We want to know as much as we can about how many times our books have been downloaded and accessed, and where in the world they’re being read – and we want you to be able to see this information too. It’s all part of our mission to make the case for Open Access by showing the reach a book can have when it’s made freely available online for everyone to read. Continue reading
Open Technology: The Future of Open Access
This is the third and final part of a three-part series of blogs to celebrate the publication of our hundredth book. To read the first part, click here. To read the second part, click here.
One of the major drivers behind the development of Open Access is technology. The internet allows us to make our books available online, and the ready availability of cheap mobile devices means that people all over the world can access them. Technological development in the internet age is partly fuelled by open source projects and phenomena such as crowdsourcing, which harness the willingness of skilled people to work together and share the fruits of their labour for others to develop further. Continue reading
This is part of a three-part series of blogs to celebrate the publication of our hundredth book. To read the first part, click here. To read the final part, click here.
A Global Outlook: Access for Everybody
Why Are We Needed?
Most people in the developing world never own a book. Even in developed countries, the prohibitive price of textbooks and academic titles hinders education, eating into shrinking library budgets and also making it less likely that individuals can afford to buy academic books. In developing countries the situation is even more critical: economic factors combine with lack of infrastructure to restrict access to printed textbooks and university-level titles.
Globally, there are more people enrolling in courses of study than ever before; more people engaging with research and ideas than ever before; more people using digital technology to discover information than ever before. By changing the nature of the academic book, we want to enable everyone to access high-quality textbooks and peer-reviewed research, regardless of income. With the power of digital Open Access publishing, we can make this happen. Continue reading
Open Book Publishers was born in 2008, sparked into life by co-founder and managing editor Alessandra Tosi’s first-hand experience of the frustrations of academic publishing. The thrill of seeing her book in print was dampened by the realisation that, thanks to its exorbitant price and small print run, very few people would have the opportunity to read it. She and co-founder Rupert Gatti began OBP to make high-quality academic books accessible for everyone everywhere and free of charge.
Nine years on we have come closer to realizing our ideal of a world where scholarly works are available to all. With the publication of our hundredth title, Michael Bryson and Arpi Movsesian’s Love and Its Critics: From the Song of Songs to Shakespeare and Milton’s Eden, it is a good time to ask: what have we achieved as we arrive at this milestone, and what do we want to do next?
Over three blog posts we will discuss our innovative publications, our Open Access model and our technological development to celebrate some highlights from our first one hundred books – and to chart a course for the next hundred!
We are delighted to announce that we are 2017 WISE Awards Finalists! The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) rewards organisations for their innovative and impactful approaches to today’s most urgent education challenges, and we are thrilled to be recognised alongside some very impressive projects.
The WISE Awards gives us the opportunity to showcase our mission, to democratise access to learning by making high-quality textbooks for secondary schools and monographs freely available online alongside inexpensive printed editions. Alessandra Tosi, our Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to receive this nomination, which recognizes our success in reaching readers in the developing world. At a time when online education is expanding, our developing list of free-to-read online textbooks and monographs is a much-needed resource to help support education worldwide.”
This news comes at an exciting time for OBP. We are about to publish our 100th book, a milestone we’re really looking forward to celebrating, and we also hope to have some news to share with you soon about a new development, so watch this space…