There are many reasons for the challenges facing specialist scholarly books, and we don’t have time to go into all of them now. One important factor has been the role of libraries as the key market for monographs. The role of libraries as the main purchasers of monographs has left monographs vulnerable to contractions in library budgets. Library book budgets have not kept pace with growth in the number of authors publishing new books. And sharp increases in the costs of maintaining journal subscriptions have put libraries under pressure: Leaving even less money to support books.
There are many reasons for the challenges facing specialist scholarly books, and we don’t have time to go into all of them now. One important factor has been the role of libraries as the key market for monographs. The role of libraries as the main purchasers of monographs has left monographs vulnerable to contractions in library budgets. Library book budgets have not kept pace with growth in the number of authors publishing new books. And sharp increases in the costs of maintaining journal subscriptions have put libraries under pressure: Leaving even less money to support books. Slide 5: An OA Model For Books?The open access challenge has arrived at a moment when the systems that support specialist scholarly books are already under pressure. Digital technologies are presenting scholarly communities with opportunities to widen access to content and increase the impact of their work. Research funders are increasingly requiring open access and many authors would like open access options for their books. But the budgets that support books are already under strain and there is little bandwidth for experimentation that might lead to innovation. Furthermore, the models being developed to support open access for journal articles are unlikely to work for book-length publications. The costs of publishing a 70,000 — 100,000-word book are simply much higher than they are for a 2,000 — 5,000 word journal article. The high costs of publishing mean that ‘gold’ routes to open access are not a practical option for most authors. If the value of monographs is to be amplified rather than lost in a digital world creative approaches to supporting their publication are needed. We need to find ways to use limited budgets more effectively so that the key outputs of the Humanities and Social Sciences do not remain locked behind paywalls in a world where journal literature is moving towards open access.
Knowledge Unlatched is a not for profit initiative helping libraries to share the costs of making books Open Access. We are focused specifically on front-list titles for now. That is, we are dealing with forthcoming books. And by Open Access we mean available to any one in the world to read or download for free, on a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license, immediately upon publication.
KU has an office in London, but we are very much an international project. Our partners include Jisc Collections in the UK and the Max Planck Society in Germany. In the United States we have worked closely with the New York Public Library to develop and refine the model, and we are working with LYRASIS to sign up libraries. We have also received key early support from the Big Innovation Center, the British Library Trust, the Open Society Foundation and three founding Australian libraries.
Knowledge Unlatched is very much about creating a sustainable route to Open Access for book length Humanities and Social Science publications. We are working to do this by helping libraries to spread the costs of Open Access across many institutions, globally. All of us working on Knowledge Unlatched are motivated by a desire to ensure that Humanities and Social Science long-form publications are as accessible as open access journal articles. And we think that efficient coordination can ensure that library spending on books supports the widest possible access to scholarship. By working together, Libraries can maximize the positive impact of their book budgets.
So – how does the Knowledge Unlatched model work? The basic idea is that Knowledge Unlatched is helping libraries from around the world to coordinate their monograph purchases. Our reason for doing this is so that libraries can offer publishers a Title Fee for books that a community of libraries would like to include in their collections. I’ll explain the Title Fee in more detail in a moment.
From a library perspective, this is what the process looks like: Publishers offer forthcoming books to libraries via Knowledge Unlatched. Libraries take a look at the books on offer and decide whether they are appropriate for their collections and the communities they serve. If they are, Libraries pledge a capped amount to ‘unlatch’ the books If enough libraries pledge, the libraries share the payment of a Title Fee for each book. Publishers make a PDF version of titles available on an open access license via OAPEN upon publication Knowledge Unlatched ensures preservation. The books will be made discoverable via the usual channels and MARC records will be provided to libraries.
The Title Fee represents the basic cost of publishing a book, including a margin for publisher overheads. Payment of the Title Fee allows a publisher to feel confident that they will not make a loss on a book, even if it is made available on an Open Access license. Publishers are willing to make books available on an Open Access license and to work with Knowledge Unlatched to ensure that double dipping does not occur if they know that their core publishing costs will be covered by the Title Fee, if their book is selected for unlatching.
There are advantages for both sides in this approach to supporting open access monographs. You can see here that the Title Fee paid by a community of libraries is a fixed amount. As the number of libraries around the world taking part in the program increases, the cost to each library of securing access decreases.
Knowledge Unlatched has now launched its first Pilot Collection of 28 new titles from 13 publishers. The collection is focused on Literature; History; Politics; Media & Communication. We are now seeking support from at least 200 libraries from around the world so that the collection can become open access. We are inviting libraries to pledge a capped maximum of $1,680 towards the collection. This works out to an average of $60 per title. However, if more than 200 libraries sign up for the collection, the cost for each library will be less.
We hope that the books included in the Pilot Collection will appeal to libraries on their own merits. However, the Knowledge Unlatched Pilot is also an important step in engaging libraries in the project and creating a framework that will help them to shape its future. Libraries that help unlatch the Pilot Collection will become members of Knowledge Unlatched. As members they will gain governance rights that will provide them with a voice in shaping future collections, as well as in helping to steer Knowledge Unlatched towards a successful future. Knowledge Unlatched will establish a Library Steering Committee and a Collections committee in early 2014. We also plan to build on work that we have already carried out on bringing together libraries and publishers interested in the challenge of open access for books by establishing a joint Library/Publisher forum.
This is a full list of the publishers that have included titles in the Pilot Collection. We are already signing up publishers for our next rounds. In fact, we have a waiting list. A full list of the publishers that have indicated they would like to offer titles in future rounds is available on the Knowledge Unlatched website – and is being updated continuously.
These are the cover images that publishers have supplied us with to date. We are still waiting on design departments to finalise a couple of images for forthcoming titles – but this slide should give you a general sense of the collection.
When putting the pilot together, we have been conscious of the fact that Libraries are already buying physical books and e-book collections. Knowledge Unlatched has always aimed to develop a fair system that avoids double dipping. We have come up with a simple approach to ensuring that libraries that order – or plan to order – titles included in the Pilot Collection through another channel aren’t being asked to pay twice for these books. If a library orders a print or any eBook format of any title in the Pilot Collection via any channel within a set timeframe they will not be charged an unlatching fee for that title. Instead, the amount they are invoiced by Knowledge Unlatched will be adjusted down. Publishers have agreed to purchases made by Libraries participating in the KU Pilot as a contribution towards unlatching the collection. We think that this is a very good deal for libraries. It means that libraries that may already plan to purchase the books included in the pilot collection have an opportunity to ensure that their spending is recognised as a contribution towards open access. By extension, if a library orders all of the titles in the Pilot Collection through other channels they may not need to pay anything via Knowledge Unlatched. But all of their purchases would count towards making the collection Open Access, as long as they indicated their other purchases to us through our pledging site. However, we also recognise that this approach will need to be adjusted to ensure that scaling is practical for both libraries and publishers. So, although we think that this is a great starting point, we will refine this aspect of the model once the pilot is complete.
When a library signs up for the pilot collection, they will have an opportunity to indicate their additional format purchases to us. This page, which displays once you have signed in to the pledging site, asks the library to indicate which titles they have ordered, or intend to order via a vendor, aggregator or platform of their choice by the 31 March 2014. This page can be filled out at any time up to the end of the pledging period. You can come back to this page as many times as you like to update information. If you are not buying any other formats of the books in the collection, or you would prefer to simply skip this step altogether and pay the full unlatching fee for all of the titles in the collection, you can also indicate that on this screen. Slide 16a: Additional Format Screen Bubbles For each title you can tell us whether you plan to acquire it in print or e-book version, using a very simple drop-down box. You can also let us know how you expect to purchase the title: As part of an e-book collection, an approval plan, or whether you have made a firm order of an electronic or print version. We recognise that this approach will need to be adjusted to ensure that scaling is practical for both libraries and publishers in future rounds. So, although we think that this is a great starting point, we will refine this aspect of the model once the pilot is complete.
Libraries that help unlatch the Pilot Collection will enjoy a number of benefits: The ability to ensure that other format purchases contribute to making the Pilot Collection open access. High-quality MARC records. We are working with partners to ensure that KU is able to add value to the metadata attached to KU titles as they flow through our system. Participating libraries will have access to usage data relating to the open access version of KU titles. We are working to ensure COUNTER compliance – and we are confident that this is something that we will be able to provide in the future. From 2014 Knowledge Unlatched will introduce a small membership fee – of no more than $500. Libraries that help unlatch the Pilot Collection will receive a 2-year membership fee waiver, until January 2016. Member libraries will have the right to nominate and vote for members of a Library Steering Committee and a Collections Committee. Elections for the collections committee will take place in early 2014. In the first instance, the Library Steering Committee will be drawn from libraries that have supported KU in its start-up phases. Elections for the Steering Committee will take place in January 2016.
The KU pledging period will remain open until the end of January 2014.The results of the pledging process will be announced in early February.If we are successful in signing up at least 200 libraries, each library will receive an invoice in mid-February that reflects the final number of libraries taking part, as well as any additional purchases they may have indicated to us. LYRASIS will handle the invoicing process for North American libraries, as well as the liaison and administrative work associated with that process.The books in the collection will become open access immediately upon publication.And publishers will be paid the Title Fee once libraries have paid their invoices.
And from 2014, this project evolves in Knowledge Unlatched and scaling up. We already have a waiting list of publishers interested in offering books to libraries through KU in 2014 – and we are aiming to provide libraries with more titles, more selection options (including single titles and single subject packages) from next year. The cost savings to libraries associated with this model will increase as the number of libraries taking part in the initiative grows, and as the volume of titles flowing through the system expands. So, to ensure that the cost per library goes down, we will continue encouraging libraries to take part in the program and work to offer them high quality books that are relevant to the communities they serve. Knowledge Unlatched South is a project that will explore how KU might work with publishers in developing country markets. We are also eager to explore opportunities for Knowledge Unlatched to encourage diversity in monograph publishing. We will be working with the Library Steering Committee, the collections committee and the Library/Publisher forum to identify the best approach to this challenge.
As I mentioned, a key goal of Knowledge Unlatched is developing a model that is sustainable in the long term. In order to do this we will ultimately need to ensure that we are not dependent on grants to cover KU’s core running costs. So from 2014 Knowledge Unlatched will apply a 5% surcharge to Title Fees, to cover the consortium’s operation. We believe that this percentage figure can be brought down as the volume of titles increases. We will work with the Library Steering Committee to review the 5% surcharge as the project develops.
We think that creative approaches to coordinating demand for Open Access monographs will benefit stakeholders across the system. We hope that you will consider taking part in the Pilot Collection and look forward to hearing you comments and questions.
Knowledge Unlatched One Year On
Enabling Open Access for
Challenges for Book Publishers
Library budgets are under pressure
Journals have become much more expensive
The number of monograph titles has increased
Sales of monographs have declined
Print runs for each title have decreased
Publishers must spread the costs of publishing each title
over a smaller number of copies
Open Access for Books?
Research funders are beginning to require OA and authors
would like an OA option.
The cost of publishing a 70,000 – 100,000 word monograph
significantly higher than the cost of publishing a 5,000 –
10,000 word journal article
Humanities and social science research budgets are small
Some authors lack research funding
Author pays model used for journals unlikely to work for
What is Knowledge Unlatched?
• Libraries from around the world collaborate to share
the costs of making books open access
• CC-BY-NC or CC-BY-NC-ND license
• Front-list titles (new books)
• Immediate upon publication (no embargo)
A Global Initiative
Max Planck Society
New York Public Library
Big Innovation Center
British Library Trust
Open Society Foundation
– Queensland University of
– University of Melbourne
– University of Western Australia
Knowledge Unlatched Goals
• A sustainable route to OA for Humanities and Social
Science (HSS) books
• Spread costs of OA across many institutions globally
• Ensuring that humanities and social science books
are as accessible as OA science journals
• Help libraries to maximize the positive impact of
spending on books
How Does it Work?
• Knowledge Unlatched is helping libraries
around the world coordinate book purchases
• Libraries share the Title Fee (first copy cost) as
a payment to publishers
• Publishers make titles selected by the
community available as Open Access
What it Looks Like
• Publishers offer forthcoming books to libraries via
• Libraries pledge a capped amount to ‘unlatch’ the
• If enough libraries pledge, the libraries share the
payment of a Title Fee for each book
• Publishers make a PDF version of titles available on
an OA license via OAPEN upon publication
• Books are preserved and discoverable. MARC
records available for all titles – contributed by OCLC.
OAPEN offers publishers, libraries and research funders
new ways to distribute scholarly books.
• Their services include a platform for dissemination,
quality assurance and digital preservation.
• Advisory Board chaired by Caroline Sutton, President
of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
• Titles are in WorldCat; working with discovery tools
• Working on Counter compliant usage
What is a Title Fee?
• The Title Fee represents the basic cost of
publishing a book
• Payment of the Title Fee allows publishers to feel
confident that they will break even on each title
• Because the Title Fee is a fixed amount as the
number of libraries pledging increases, the cost per
The Pilot Collection
Proof of concept for Knowledge Unlatched
28 new books from 13 publishers
Literature; History; Politics; Media & Communications
At least 200 libraries from around the world need to sign up
so that the collection can be made OA
Maximum cost per library: $1680. This is an average of $60
If more libraries pledge, the cost for each library will be less
An Opportunity to Help Shape
Libraries that help unlatch the Pilot Collection will be able to
help shape the future of Knowledge Unlatched through:
o Library Steering Committee
o Collection Committee
KU plans to establish a joint Library/Publisher forum in early
Pilot Collection Publishers
Amsterdam University Press
Manchester University Press
Purdue University Press
Rutgers University Press
Cambridge University Press
Temple University Press
University of Michigan Press
Duke University Press
Edinburgh University Press
Liverpool University Press
Avoiding ‘Double Dipping’
• The amount a library pays will be adjusted to reflect
additional format purchases made by each library
• If a library orders or pans to order a print or eBook
format of any title in the Pilot Collection via any
channel they will not be charged an unlatching fee
for that title
• If a library orders all of the titles in the Pilot
Collection through other channels there may be no
• This approach will be refined in future rounds
Pledging – Title Page
Your invoice will be adjusted to reflect the purchases of titles included in the
Knowledge Unlatched Pilot Collection via other routes.
You can always revisit this page later, before the end of the pledging period, to
update the information on other formats.
I’ll do this later
I’ve completed this page
Fighting for a Living
Amsterdam University Press
On Global Citizenship
I’m not buying any other
For each Title you
can tell us if you
Primary / Secondary Subjectare buying Ebook
History / Military History
or Print versions
Politics / Political Theory
Then tell us how you
expect to be purchasing
Media & Comms / Cinematography
•Firm Order (E or P)
Benefits for Participating
The ability to ensure that other format purchases contribute
to making the Pilot Collection open access.
High-quality MARC records
Usage data: We are working to ensure COUNTER
2 year membership fee waiver
The right to nominate and vote for members of a Library
Steering Committee and a Collections Committee
KU Collection Pledging Period
October 2013 – 31 January 2014
Decision on Unlatching
Early February 2014
If decision is yes, calculate final unlatching
fee for libraries
Early February 2014
Advise libraries and publishers of pledging
Mid February 2014
Invoices issued to libraries
Mid February 2014
Titles become available via OAPEN
Immediate upon publication
Publishers paid by KU
After books have been unlatched and
libraries have paid
Next Steps: 2014
Organize library advisory Committees
Repeat the cycle again with more books, more publishers
signing up, single subject packages and individual title
Continue recruiting more libraries to lower costs further
KU South: an exploration of ways in which KU might work
with publishers in developing country markets
Help foster diversity in the monograph landscape
Making Knowledge Unlatched
Set-up and Pilot
Grants and library partnerships cover set-up and running costs
Increase the number of publishers and books
KU will collect up to 5% of Title Fees to cover costs, reducing
as volume goes up
Readers – access to content
Authors – extends reach
Libraries – opportunity to participate
Publishers – opportunity to learn
Independent Researchers - access
Everyone else too
Sign Up for the Pilot Collection!
Twitter: @Kunlatched #KUPilot