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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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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?