Thanks very much Nic. I have been asked to spend a few minutes talking about the Knowledge Unlatched project – which began as a targeted intervention for specialist scholarly books – and which is now scaling up and expanding.
Knowledge Unlatched is the brainchild of veteran publisher and social entrepreneur Dr Frances Pinter. Frances has devoted her career to publishing monographs – which are the key output of the Humanities – and which also play an important role in disciplines like Law and the Social Sciences. What we refer to in in Australia as ‘Peer Review’ disciplines, rather than ‘citation-based’ disciplines.
So – this is a monograph. It happens to be mine. And – like many Humanities monographs, it began life as a PhD, and evolved into my first book during the course of a post-doc.
The whole process of research and writing the book took around six years. It cost the Australian tax payer quite a lot of money because I had a funded PhD scholarship, and then an ARC funded post-doc.
And I was really excited to see it published. Edward Elgar are a fairly prestigious publisher. I excited at the thought that other people would be able to engage with my work through a book. And having a book published was a really important factor in my ability to secure an academic job.
But… as I discovered after the book was published… this type of book typically comes out only in hardback.
It tends to be made available at a price that is not affordable for most researchers.
And – most sobering for the authors of these books – they typically sell a couple of hundred copies.
And – you can see here – that this isn’t a problem that is exclusive to my book. Sales of individual monographs have dropped by more than 90% over the last 30 years.
So – what is going on here? One way of reading this situation might be to conclude that people just aren’t interested in reading Humanities monographs. This might be interpreted as a problem with the relevance of the content being published in monograph form. Maybe we just got really boring?
But – there’s another possibility. And it is that the systems that have in the past supported global monograph markets are broken.
So what is going on here? In fact, monograph publishers – who are often small and mission focussed – have been struggling to cope with the impacts of the journals crisis.
The challenges faced by monograph publishers have coincided with the emergence of digital technologies and OA. And there is little doubt that books have as much to gain from OA as journals.
And there is now pressure on monograph publishers to find OA models that will work for books.
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.
Publishers in most markets are beginning to experiment with open access publishing options. Palgrave Open and Manchester University Press are two examples.
The costs involved mean that author pays Open Access isn’t practical for most authors.
For authors in the developing world finding upwards of $10,000 is an even greater challenge.
Humanities and Social Science research budgets are smaller than those of harder sciences. Some authors aren’t attached to a research budget at all.
So it would seem that books have a bit of a problem.
Future of Publishing Business Models: Knowledge Unlatched
A/Prof Lucy Montgomery
Director, Centre for Culture and
Research Director, Knowledge Unlatched
A long, academic and peer reviewed work
on a single topic normally written by a single
author, and extended to also include peer
reviewed edited collections by multiple
£65 per copy
Usually sells around 200
• A very small market (libraries)
• Library budgets under pressure
• Journals have become (much) more expensive
• 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
Pressure on Monograph
• The cost of publishing a 70,000 – 100,000 word monograph
higher than the cost of publishing a 5,000 – 10,000 word
• Palgrave Open: £11,000/$17,500: CC-BY
• Manchester University Press: £10,000: CC-NC
• HSS research budgets are small
• Some authors aren’t attached to a research budget at all
• Author pays models won’t work for most of us!
• Libraries from around the world collaborate to share
the costs of making books open access
• CC licenses
• Front-list titles (new books)
• Immediate OA (no embargo)
• Recent ‘backlist’. Collaboration with Language
What is Knowledge Unlatched?
Features of the KU Model
• Includes a market element (librarians choose which books to
support on behalf of their communities)
• Globally funded
• Accessing existing funds (library acquisition budgets as well
as OA funds)
• Cost effective
Queensland University of
The University of Melbourne
The University of Western
Big Innovation Centre
British Library Trust
Open Society Foundation
Max Planck Society
• Over 400 libraries participating so far
• 449 books unlatched from 54 publishers
• (2014 – 28 titles)
• (2016 – 78 titles)
• (2017 – 343 titles – announced Feb 25th!)
Institution-specific Usage Statistics
Version 1.0 of institution-specific stats are available and
were sent out in November 2016
KU University Library Global OAPEN Downloads
Total OAPEN Downloads
KU University Library Global OAPEN Downloads
1 1 1
Downloads by Publisher
Amsterdam University Press
Cambridge University Press
Duke University Press
Edinburgh University Press
Liverpool University Press
• A serious program of critical research on understanding
the uses of OA books
• Partnering with Curtin University (Australia) and
University of Michigan Libraries
• Collaborating with platforms: HathiTrust and OAPEN
• Competitively funded research projects
• Intensive collaborations: UCL Press usage study
Winner: IFLA/Brill Award for Open Access 2014
Winner: Curtin University Award for Best Innovation in
Shortlisted: ALPSP Award for Innovation in Publishing