Thanks for tuning in to this webinar, which will introduce Knowledge Unlatched and provide you with information about how to sign up for the pilot.
My name is Leon Loberman and I am the Head of Operations and Technology at Knowledge Unlatched. I am going to begin the presentation by providing some context to the Knowledge Unlatched project.
As I will explain, the challenges associated with achieving open access for books are not identical to those facing journal articles. Libraries have an especially important role to play in helping monographs to make a shift to open access.
I will then go on to outline the goals of the Knowledge Unlatched project and take you through the way that the model works.
Finally, I will briefly introduce the 2013 Pilot, which we are now inviting libraries to sign up for, and provide you with some information about what will happen in the next phases of knowledge Unlatched.
As I’m sure many of you are aware, the area of scholarly communication that Knowledge Unlatched is tackling has been in trouble for some time.
Although Humanities and Social Science monographs remain important for academic communities all over the world, sales of this kind of book are falling. Some estimates suggest that sales have fallen by as much as 90% over the past 20 years.
Monograph publishers have found themselves caught in a negative cycle: Declining sales have resulted in higher prices, as the costs of publishing a book are spread across a smaller number of copies. This, in turn, is limiting the market for specialist scholarly books even further.
No one is winning.
Monograph publishing is marginally profitable at best and, in many cases, must be subsidized.
Libraries are struggling to afford books.
Authors are finding it harder to get published.
And readers have limited access to the books they want.
There are many reasons for the challenges facing specialist scholarly books, and we don’t have time to go into all of them now.
But one important factor has been the role of libraries as the key market for monographs.
The role of libraries as the main purchasers of specialist scholarly books has left monographs vulnerable to contractions in library budgets.
Library book budgets haven’t 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.
The open access challenge has arrived at a moment when the systems that support specialist scholarly books are already feeling the strain.
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 monographs are stretched 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 to 100,000-word book are simply much higher than they are for a 5 to 10,000 word journal article.
High costs of publishing mean that ‘gold’ routes to open access are not a practical option for most authors of monographs.
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 don’t remain locked behind paywalls in a world where journal literature is moving towards open access.
This is why Knowledge Unlatched has been created.
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 anyone in the world to read or download for free, on a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license, immediately upon publication.
Knowledge Unlatched 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 are we working with LYRASIS to sign up libraries in North America.
OAPEN is a deposit service dedicated to Open Access peer reviewed books and it will host the books that become open access through the Knowledge Unlatched program.
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 own collections.
I’ll explain the Title Fee in more detail in a moment.
But 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. In the UK this is done via the Jisc Collections system.
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 won’t 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 doesn’t 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 and Media & Communications.
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, or £1000, towards the collection. This works out to an average of $60 or £37 pounds 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 in the pilot will appeal to libraries in their own merit.
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 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 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.
This slide gives you a snapshot of 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.
So we’ve 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 recognise purchases made by Libraries participating in the Pilot as a contribution towards unlatching the collection.
We have been really pleased by the willingness of publishers to work with to tackle the double dipping challenge for books.
We think that this is a really good deal for participating libraries. The arrangement that has been agreed for the pilot 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 let us know about their other purchases to us.
Libraries that help unlatch the Pilot Collection will enjoy a number of benefits:
The ability to ensure that other format purchases are recognised as contributions towards making the Pilot Collection open access.
High-quality MARC records. We are working with partners to ensure that Knowledge Unlatched is able to add value to the metadata attached to books as they flow through our system.
Participating libraries will have access to usage data relating to the open access version of Knowledge Unlatched 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 £300. 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. Jisc Collections will handle the invoicing process for UK 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 becomes all about developing the role of library governance in Knowledge Unlatched and scaling up.
We already have a waiting list of publishers interested in offering books to libraries through Knowledge Unlatched in 2014 – and we are aiming to provide libraries with more titles and 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 Knowledge Unlatched 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 Knowledge Unlatched’s core running costs.
So from 2014 Knowledge Unlatched will apply a 5% surcharge to Title Fees, to cover the consortium’s operation.
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.
Enabling Open Access for
Webinar for UK Libraries
• Open Access Challenges for Books
• What is Knowledge Unlatched?
• KU’s Goals
• How does it work?
• Pilot Collection and Next Steps
Context: A Troubled Market
Sales of academic monographs have declined by 90% over
Prices have increased beyond inflation
Publishers are struggling to cover their costs
Libraries struggling to afford books
Academics are struggling to get published
Readers have limited access to the books they want
Why Are Books In trouble?
A very small market (libraries)
Journals have become (much) more expensive
Library budgets under pressure
The number of monograph titles has increased
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?
Digital technology is providing opportunities to widen
access and increase impact
Research funders are beginning to require Open Access
Many authors would like Open Access options
The cost of publishing a 70,000 – 100,000 word monograph
higher than the cost of publishing a 5,000 – 10,000 word
HSS research budgets are small
Some authors aren’t attached to a research budget at all
Author-side payment approaches being taken up by journals
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)
Queensland University of
Max Planck Society
The University of Melbourne
New York Public Library
The University of Western
Big Innovation Center
British Library Trust
Open Society Foundation
Knowledge Unlatched Goals
• A sustainable route to OA for Humanities and Social
Science (HSS) books (long-form publications)
• Spread costs of OA across many institutions
• Ensuring that HSS long-form publications 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 from
around the world to coordinate their
• Libraries can choose to jointly offer a Title Fee
payment to publishers
• In return, publishers make titles selected by
the community available on 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
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
Maximum cost per library: $1680. This is an average of $60
If more libraries pledge, the cost for each library will be less
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
An Opportunity to Help Shape
Libraries that help unlatch the Pilot Collection gain
They will be able to help shape the future of Knowledge
A Library Steering Committee and a Collection Committee
KU also plans to establish a joint Library/Publisher forum in
Avoiding Double Payment
For the Pilot:
•The amount a library pays will be adjusted to reflect
additional format purchases
•If a library orders (or intends 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
•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
For each Title
you can tell us if
you are buying
eBook or Print
Then tell us how you
expect to be purchasing
-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
2 year membership fee waiver
Usage data: We are working to ensure COUNTER
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
Continue recruiting more libraries to lower costs further
Help foster diversity in the monograph landscape
Develop library role in governance
Repeat the cycle again with more books, more publishers
(signing up now!) single subject packages and individual title
KU South: an exploration of ways in which KU might work
with publishers in developing country markets
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 take up to 5% of Title Fees to cover costs
Everyone else too
Sign Up for the Pilot Collection!
Twitter: @Kunlatched #KUPilot