Category Archives: Notes From The Editor

Small articles and pieces from OBP about Open Access and notable information surrounding the books we are publishing and their relevance to current matters.

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Just Managing? and the articulation of Austerity

The Independent has recently reported that in autumn this year, the UN Human Rights Investigator Professor Philip Alston will be researching the impact of Tory austerity measures in Britain.[1] The need for such an investigation will come as no surprise to readers of Mark O’Brien and Paul Kyprianou’s hard-hitting study of austerity Britain, Just Managing?.[2] This startling and eminently readable study foregrounds the plight of low-earning families who have been disproportionately affected by the policy agenda that has been pursued over the last three governments. The Coalition of 2010-2015, and the majority and minority Conservative governments that followed, have delivered the exact reverse of what they promised with regards to austerity, originally advertised as impacting the rich more heavily than the poorest in society.[3] In fact, income inequality, and its attendant problems of inflation and unequal distributions of education and healthcare, have increased on an unprecedented scale in recent years.[4] Continue reading

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Soso Tham and the Wisdom of Language

Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham’s The Old Days of the Khasis is one of the least accessed titles in the Open Book online catalogue; there is not even a Wikipedia entry for Soso Tham (1873-1940), despite his being the most prolific Khasi-language poet ever to be set into writing. Such obscurity is not only the neglect of a sensitive North-Indian poet, who can hold his own in comparison with Keats, Wordsworth and Clare in the English canon; it is also emblematic of the suppression of eastern cultural practices by imperial western forces, as well as the forgetfulness of modern people of their ancient past. Soso Tham’s poetry seeks to reacquaint the Khasi people with their cultural and linguistic heritage, and assert pride in that inheritance against the voracious forces of colonial rule (under Britain until 1947) and modern suspicion of indigenous traditions. Janet Hujon’s (re)discovery of this distinctive and moving poet, is as much a personal communion between Khasi poets – Hujon is a Cambridge-based member of the Khasi community– as it is a communion across generations and estranged cultural discourses: Western and Eastern, urban and rural, modern and ancient. Continue reading

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Knowledge is for Sharing: Support Us!

We’re a not-for-profit Open Access academic press, and we’re dedicated to making outstanding books that are free for everybody to read. We don’t charge authors to publish with us. We don’t put our content behind paywalls. If you believe in open access publishing, now you can support us easily, with a couple of clicks!

We’ve set up a Patreon account, which allows individuals to pledge a monthly donation of their choosing to Open Book Publishers. It can be as much as you want (think big!) or as little as the cost of a cup of coffee. Your donation will go towards the publication of more open access books, growing the store of open access knowledge available to the world.

If you’re already convinced, you can go straight to Patreon and sign up here! But if you’d like to know more: Continue reading

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Open Access in Russia – a point of connection?

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’.[1]

Continue reading

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Open Access Around the World: Tracking Our Books Using Online Statistics

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

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One Hundred Books: How Far Have We Come? (Part Three)

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

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One Hundred Books: How Far Have We Come? (Part Two)

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

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One Hundred Books: How Far Have We Come? (Part One)

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!

Continue reading

OBP Nominated for Education Award

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…