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
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