Knowledge Unlatched has recently announced the launch of a new platform for Open Access (OA) books – KU Open Funding (KUOF) – designed to:
- Facilitate payments from libraries/universities to Open Access publishers
- Provide a list of, and information on, OA publishers receiving institutional funding that researchers can use to identify and select their publisher
Firstly, it is worth noting that this service is designed to address issues of importance for sustainable OA book publishing. If business models for Open Access book publishing involve any form of funding transfer from an institution (university/grant body etc.) to the publisher (and there are many different forms this may take), then there are potentially significant transaction costs for each institution (and publisher) in setting up and administering these payments (if there are U universities and P publishers – then there are U x P financial flows to set up and maintain). These costs can be significantly reduced if all the transactions flow through a central hub – or platform – allowing each university or press to maintain just a single connection with the platform, rather than lots of individual connections. This reduces the number of connections for each university or press to just one, and across the whole system the number of required connections falls from U x P to U + P. In a world with lots of universities and lots of publishers, the potential savings are significant. Many such collective payment services already exist within the library community – although none focused entirely on OA books (e.g. JISC Collections in the UK provides a similar, but non-exclusive service for UK libraries wishing to pay subscription and other fees to publishers – including library membership fees to OBP). Continue reading
When Alessandra and Rupert invited me to join them in establishing Open Publishers as a Community Interest Company, I was delighted to accept. Having been a senior manager in the British Treasury I had experience of economic and financial matters, and that experience had first been brought to bear in my 2004 book, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period, of which a free to read online summary was published later, as The Political Economy of Reading. Continue reading
The next ten years: “We need to show this can be different.”
While Gatti and Tosi are fiercely proud of what they have built, they believe the future of OBP lies in enabling the growth of other Open Access publishers. Gatti sees this as the way to achieve significant and lasting impact: “We did think we would grow bigger initially, that we’d want to be publishing a hundred books a year or something, but the Radical Open Access Collective, ScholarLed, this is a much more powerful expansion if you can facilitate that rather than us getting bigger.” Continue reading
Ten years ago today Open Book Publishers was born. Non-profit, scholar-led and now the leading UK Open Access publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences, OBP began as a small-scale experiment, a passion project for co-directors Alessandra Tosi and Rupert Gatti. They were frustrated with the existing academic publishing landscape and convinced that Open Access could offer something different. 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!
Open Access: the future of academic publishing
Researchers, authors and funding bodies are realising that the high price of access to academic books and journals means that only a select few can read their work. Open Access (that is, making texts free to read and reuse) helps spread research results and other educational materials to everyone, globally, not just to those who can afford it or have access to well-endowed university libraries able to pay the high prices required by commercial ‘legacy’ publishers. Scholars are realizing that participation in a system that confines the readership, and therefore the intellectual engagement, to the affluent few is not only morally questionable but a potential drag on the progress of their subject, and indeed of their academic careers. Continue reading