Knowledge Unlatched: Enabling Open Access for Scholarly Books


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Although digital technology has made it possible for many more people to access content at no extra cost, fewer people than ever before are able to read the books written by university-based researchers. This presentation explores the role that open access licenses and collective action might play in reviving the scholarly monograph: a specialised area of academic publishing that has seen sales decline by more than 90 per cent over the past three decades. It also introduces Knowledge Unlatched an ambitious attempt to create an internationally coordinated, sustainable route to open access for scholarly books. Knowledge Unlatched is now in its pilot phase.

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  • I am going to begin this 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 journals. Libraries have an especially important role to play in helping to create sustainable markets that include open access books. 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 introduce the 2013 Pilot collection, 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 most of you are aware, the area of scholarly communication that Knowledge Unlatched is tackling has been in trouble for a while. There has been a great deal of discussion about challenges facing Australian publishers of specialist scholarly books – but the monograph crisis is a global one. Although monographs remain a key output for many researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences sales of this kind of book have declined dramatically. 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, has to be subsidized.  Libraries are struggling to afford books.  Authors are finding it harder to get published. And readers are struggling to access the knowledge and ideas that specialist scholarly books contain.
  • 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 that libraries playas the main purchasers of specialist scholarly books 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 left little money to support monographs.
  • All of this means that the open access challenge has arrived at a moment when the global systems that have traditionally supported 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.  At the same time, more and more research funders are requiring open access. And many authors would like open access options for their books. However, the question of how thigh quality publishing for open access books should be paid for has yet to be resolved.
  • The challenges associated with creating routes to open access for books are not identical to those facing journals and monograph specific approaches to funding open access are needed. The costs of publishing a 70,000 — 100,000-word book are much higher than they are for a 5,000-10,000 word journal article. Professional editing, high quality peer-review, type-setting, design, marketing, preservation, production and digital delivery mean that even not-for-profit University presses are struggling to keep the fixed costs of publishing a monograph below $20,000 a title. As a result, ‘gold’ routes to open access are not a practical option for most authors.Asking individual institutions to pay for the costs of publishing books that their researchers produce is also less than ideal. Many authors would prefer that the process of securing publication remains distanced from University politics. The global markets that evolved to support print monographs are in crisis. However, requiring publishers to recoup the costs of publishing a book by selling it to research libraries from around the world does have certain advantages. It introduces a market element into the publishing process and helps to ensure that publishing is demand led, not just supply driven. It also allows the cost of publishing a monograph to be shared by many institutions, globally. So there are good reasons to think about how the role of libraries in selecting and securing access to content on behalf of scholarly communities might be incorporated into systems for funding open access books.
  • Why does all of this matter? It matters because we live in a world where access to free digital content is becoming ubiquitous. If books remain locked behind pay walls in digital environments that are rich in free content, including open access journal articles, then opportunities for books to connect with audiences that might value or apply the knowledge they contain will be lost. Open Access is a powerful way to help ensure that the knowledge contained in monographs is amplified in a digital world.But the budgets available to support monographs are limited. So we need to find ways to use money that is already in the system more effectively so that sustainable routes to open access for high quality specialist scholarly books can be created.
  • This is why we have been developing Knowledge Unlatched.
  • 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 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 focused on 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 will ensure digital preservation. The books will be made discoverable via the usual channels and MARC records will be provided to libraries. 
  • So – what is a Title Fee?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; and 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 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 and actually 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 we are continuing to update it.
  • This slide provides you with 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 books – but this slide should give you a general sense of the Pilot Collection.
  •  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 are dealing with complex markets. Finding an approach that is efficient, practical and scalable for both libraries publishers is something that we will continue to refine in the next rounds of the project.
  • Ensuring that there are some exclusive advantages available to libraries that take part in Knowledge Unlatched is an important aspect of overcoming the collective action challenges that might hamper a globally coordinated approach to supporting open access books.We have been careful to create a model that includes exclusive benefits for participating libraries, and which offers incentives for early participation.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. 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 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.
  • Digital affordance is creating opportunities to think about the value of scholarly books in new ways – and to find creative approaches to paying for their publication. Sustainable markets that include open access have the potential to benefit stakeholders both within and beyond Universities: Making it easier for readers to find and connect with digital books, providing cost savings for libraries and ensuring that library spending on books widens access, helping authors to connect with interested audiences and providing monograph publishers with the funding that will allow them to continue adding value to the scholarly communication system.As an Australian academic, I am proud of the role that Australian libraries have played in helping to establish Knowledge Unlatched. Coordinating mechanisms, like Knowledge Unlatched, have an important role to play in supporting a transition from closed print business models towards scholarly communication approaches that are appropriate to an open and networked digital world.In the end, it is likely that a number of different approaches to supporting open access for books will emerge. However, Australia has a great deal to gain from recognising the global nature of scholarly communication landscapes and from working with international partners to create efficient systems that are fit for the future. As such, I hope that Knowledge Unlatched will be able to offer Australian research communities something that helps them to continue punching above their weight on the international scene.
  • So – wish us luck. We would love your support. And I look forward to hearing your comments and questions.
  • Knowledge Unlatched: Enabling Open Access for Scholarly Books

    1. 1. Knowledge Unlatched: Enabling Open Access for Scholarly Books Lucy Montgomery
    2. 2. This Presentation • Open Access Challenges for Books • What is Knowledge Unlatched? • KU’s Goals • How does it work? • Pilot Collection and Next Steps
    3. 3. Context: A Troubled Market • • • • • • Sales of academic monographs have declined by 90% over 20 years 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
    4. 4. Why Are Books In trouble? • • • • • • A very small market (libraries) 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 Journals have become (much) more expensive
    5. 5. Open Access for Books? • • • • • The Open Access challenge has arrived at a moment when markets for monographs are struggling to cope with the wider effects of digital disruption 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 But how should OA books be paid for?
    6. 6. Challenges • • • • • The cost of publishing a 70,000 – 100,000 word monograph higher than the cost of publishing a 5,000 – 10,000 word journal article 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 won’twork Advantages to demand led, market based approaches to funding publishing
    7. 7. The Stakes • • • • Locking monographs behind paywalls handicaps them in a digital world OA is a great way to lower barriers to access and to ensure that the knowledge contained in book length publications is amplified, rather than lost There is a danger that the core outputs of STEM disciplines will be OA, but the core outputs of HASS disciplines will remain closed Creative approaches to supporting open access books are needed!
    8. 8. Knowledge Unlatched
    9. 9. What is Knowledge Unlatched? • Not-for-profit • 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)
    10. 10. Partners Founding Libraries Jisc Collections LYRASIS Queensland University of Technology Max Planck Society The University of Melbourne New York Public Library The University of Western Australia OAPEN Key Supporters Big Innovation Center British Library Trust Open Society Foundation
    11. 11. 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 globally • Ensuring that HSS long-form publications are as accessible as OA (science) journals • Help libraries to maximize the positive impact of spending on books
    12. 12. How Does it Work? • Knowledge Unlatched is helping libraries from around the world to coordinate their monograph purchases • 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
    13. 13. What it Looks Like • Publishers offer forthcoming books to libraries via Knowledge Unlatched • 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 OA license via OAPEN upon publication • Books are preserved and discoverable. MARC records available for all titles
    14. 14. 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 library decreases
    15. 15. Title Fee Examples
    16. 16. 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 per title If more libraries pledge, the cost for each library will be less
    17. 17. An Opportunity to Help Shape Knowledge Unlatched • • • • Libraries that help unlatch the Pilot Collection gain governance rights They will be able to help shape the future of Knowledge Unlatched through: A Library Steering Committee and a Collection Committee KU also plans to establish a joint Library/Publisher forum in early 2014
    18. 18. Pilot Collection Publishers Amsterdam University Press Manchester University Press Bloomsbury Academic Purdue University Press Brill Rutgers University Press Cambridge University Press Temple University Press De Gruyter University of Michigan Press Duke University Press Edinburgh University Press Liverpool University Press
    19. 19. 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 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 that title • If a library orders all of the titles in the Pilot Collection through other channels there may be no amount due • This approach will be refined in future rounds
    20. 20. Benefits for Participating Libraries • • • • • 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 compliance 2 year membership fee waiver The right to nominate and vote for members of a Library Steering Committee and a Collections Committee
    21. 21. Pilot Timeline 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 result 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
    22. 22. Next Steps: 2014 • • • • • • Review results Develop library role in governance Repeat the cycle again with more books, more publishers (signing up now!) single subject packages and individual title options 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
    23. 23. Making Knowledge Unlatched Sustainable Set-up and Pilot Grants and library partnerships cover set-up and running costs From 2014 Increase the number of publishers and books KU will take up to 5% of Title Fees to cover costs, reducing as volume goes up
    24. 24. Open Monograph Models (1) – OA edition + sales from print and/or e-booksNAP, Bloomsbury Academic – Institutional Support for Press World Bank, Amherst – Library-Press collaboration Mpublishing/Michigan – Library Publishing Library Publishing Coalition (USA) – Funding body side publication fee NOWNetherlands, FWF Austria, Wellcome UK, Max Planck Society, Germany – Author side publication fee SpringerOpen Books, Palgrave Open, Manchester University Press OA – Library consortium Knowledge Unlatched
    25. 25. What is Different About KU? • • • • • • • • Spreads costs across many institutions Globally coordinated Retains a market element Minimally disruptive Draws on established funding pools Distanced from University politics Applications for developing countries Conducting research around the model
    26. 26. Who Benefits? • • • • • • Readers Libraries Authors Independent Researchers Publishers Australia…?
    27. 27. Questions • Does KU offer wider lessons about how global markets that include free access might function? • Is it enough for a KU to mirror the global dynamics of markets for content? Are there failures in this market that we should be trying to address? • How should Humanities communities engage with digital opportunities to measure impact?