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Learning to let go . . . 
or 
How Freemium 
could be a fairer and 
more sustainable 
version of OA 
Toby Green 
Head of Publishing, OECD 
November 2014
What’s in this presentation? 
Many argue that making all scholarly research freely accessible to all will 
benefit society at large. The only challenge is to find a way to cover the 
costs of publishing without putting up paywalls. 
In this presentation, I will argue that the two publishing models proposed 
to solve this challenge, the so-called Green and Gold Open Access models, 
will not meet this objective since neither model contains incentives for 
anyone to invest in making scholarly research accessible to a really broad 
audience (without which the benefits to society will be far smaller) – both 
are essentially ‘post-and-hope’ publishing models. 
I propose that a better model could be Freemium Open Access . . .
Scholarly publishers are un-popular 
because they use paywalls 
(and maybe keep this book by their bedsides?) 
“Every successful brand in history is 
inherently unpopular with a specific 
demographic.” 
“Somewhere along the way, people felt 
they had to be popular in order to be 
successful, when in fact, the opposite is 
true.” 
“The brands playing in the space you 
want to dominate have already 
figured out the inherent power of 
being unpopular.” 
(Published by Wiley)
Is there a broad audience? 
“The audience which finds your 
content interesting and useful 
is always larger than 
you think.” 
(because 40% of OECD populations are now university 
educated – see next slide) 
Practitioners, unaffiliated researchers, Students Researchers Authors 
educated layman . . . .
70 
60 
50 
40 
30 
20 
10 
0 
More graduates = more demand for a 
scholarly publications 
But they won’t all work in 
subscribing institutions 
Proportion of the 25-34 year-old population with tertiary education (left axis) 
Proportion of the 55-64 year-old population with tertiary education (left axis) 
Source: OECD (2014),Graph A1.3. Percentage of younger and older tertiary-educated adults (2012): 25-34 and 55-64 year-olds, and percentage-point difference between 
these two groups, in Education at a Glance 2014, OECD Publishing. DOI: 10.1787/eag-2014-graph3-en 
%
. . . so, no wonder they’re calling for 
better access . . . 
No! You have to 
subscribe to 
knowledge!
. . . and the policymakers and funders 
are listening . . . and acting . . . 
What do you mean, these reports 
cost money? We paid for the 
@*^%$ research!
. . . so publishers are reacting . . . 
Don’t worry, Dad, I’m going to turn this 
company around 360 degrees!
. . . by turning their attention to authors 
(and their funders) 
. . .at the risk of ignoring the needs of . . . 
READERS 
(and their institutions) 
Practitioners, unaffiliated researchers, Students Researchers Authors 
educated layman . . . .
Open Access – find the missing words 
(you’ll find them on the next slide) 
movement 
mandates
Open Access – find the missing words 
(isn’t the point to of OA to have lots of readers?) 
readers 
movement 
books 
data 
mandates
Open Access Mandates 
“Thou shall deposit . . . and it will have impact” 
dissemination 
readers
Open Access Mandates 
(remind me, what’s the objective again?)
Open Access Mandates 
- so why don’t mandates include words like ‘dissemination’ and ‘readers’? 
dissemination 
readers
Open Access business models 
summarised 
Green 
• Please post a version in a 
repository 
• Sometime later will do 
• I hope a lot of readers will 
benefit (although I have now 
given them a horrible user journey 
and taken away their economic 
‘voice’) 
• I don’t want to think about 
costs (or the impact it may have 
on journal or book publishing on 
which an author’s reputation and 
career depends) 
• But my conscience is clear 
Gold 
• I’ll foot the publishing bill 
• I hope a lot of readers will 
benefit (although I have now 
taken away their economic ‘voice’) 
• I don’t want to think about 
future costs 
• But my conscience is clear 
*Source: Science Metrix (2014) http://www.science-metrix.com/en/publications/reports#/en/publications/reports/evolution-of-open-access-policies-and-availability-1996-2013
OECD Publishing’s mandate 
MAXIMISE 
DISSEMINATION 
(i.e. everything has to be free) 
FULL 
COST RECOVERY 
(i.e. everything needs to be priced)
So, how do we stay out of debtors’ jail? 
By using a: 
• Freemium Open Access 
business model
Freemium ? 
freemium 
NOUN 
A business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are 
provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for. 
Origin 
early 21st century: blend of free and premium. 
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/freemium
Freemium is all about audience building and 
offering the option of moving up a value path 
Anonymous 
Free 
Registered 
Free 
To have enough 
Anonymous 
Paid 
Registered 
Paid 
of these . . . 
. . . you need 
loads of these. 
Therefore, audience-building is at 
the heart of Freemium Open Access
Freemium – it’s about the value 
proposition 
“A business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are 
provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for.” 
Free 
Anonymous 
Free 
Registered 
Paid 
Anonymous 
Paid 
Registered 
Discover and 
Read all content 
    
Share, embed 
content 
    
Personal services 
(e.g. alerts) 
  
Download, 
cut/paste content 
(PDF, ePub etc) 
  
Librarian services 
Freemium must innovate and evolve 
Complex 
Needs 
Support for Innovation 
Time 
PREMIUM 
Read on PC 
Save offline, 
copy-paste 
Enhanced 
discovery 
Download associated 
data (StatLinks) 
Citation tools, 
Text mining 
Basic 
discovery 
Read on 
tablets 
Save in 
information management 
systems 
Share, Embed 
libraries 
FREE 
Simple 
FREEMIUM 
Personal 
services
But my audience is too small! 
Remember me? 
Practitioners, unaffiliated researchers, Students Researchers Authors 
educated layman . . . .
Audience building – how? 
Source: Edible Geography http://www.ediblegeography.com/the-spatial-distribution-of-americans- 
in-relationship-to-starbucks/
Audience building – how? 
So, how can publishers do the same as 
Starbucks and take the content to the 
audience? 
Source: Edible Geography http://www.ediblegeography.com/the-spatial-distribution-of-americans- 
in-relationship-to-starbucks/
By doing all the usual discovery stuff . . . 
Specialist bibliographic 
database 
10% 
Library systems 
10% 
Specialist portal (e.g. 
Repec) 
6% 
Content aggregator (e.g. 
Proquest) 
9% 
Community service (e.g. 
Mendeley) 
6% 
Website managed by key 
authors in field 
6% 
Author's website 
5% 
General web search (e.g. 
Google) 
10% 
Publisher's website 
14% 
Email alerts 
14% 
Special web search (e.g. 
Scirus) 
10% 
Source: Gardner and Inger (2012): How readers 
discover content in scholarly journals
. . . and using many delivery channels 
For professionals . . . 
. . . and the public
But OECD Publishing has also learned to let go 
we now encourage anyone to 
read and then 
share and embed 
our publications in 
their websites 
and blogs for free
All the content is free to Read 
Subscribers get access to the 
premium versions 
(PDF, ePub, Excel) 
Non-subscribers can purchase the 
premium versions too
Read versions are optimised for all 
devices . . .
. . . and then we let go . . . 
Clicking 
‘Link/Embed’ . . . 
. . . brings this 
pop-up box . . . 
. . . which allows anyone to 
share, embed . . . for free. 
(so we’ve ‘let go’ our content)
No permission or license required . . . 
Because it’s embedded, we 
know it’s there . . . 
. . . and we know the traffic too. 
These buttons lead to the premium 
versions on our website.
Do we fulfil our mandate 
On dissemination? 
Dissemination (‘000) 
18,000 
16,000 
14,000 
12,000 
10,000 
8,000 
6,000 
4,000 
2,000 
- 
Each colour is a different dissemination 
service or channel 
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Do we fulfil our mandates 
On cost recovery? 
Dissemination (‘000) 
18,000 
16,000 
14,000 
12,000 
10,000 
8,000 
6,000 
4,000 
2,000 
- 
We recovered our 
(growing) publishing 
costs in every year too. 
Each colour is a different dissemination 
service or channel 
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
In conclusion – 
Is Freemium a better form of OA? 
• Freemium means actively building an audience 
(You can be Free and not have many readers) 
• Freemium keeps the audience in the driving seat 
(You can be Free and ignore reader needs) 
• Freemium means innovation 
(You can be Free and stop innovating) 
• Freemium delivers value for money 
(You can be Free and build services that no-one uses) 
• Freemium gives taxpayers/funders a choice 
(To be Free taxpayers/funders must pay publishing costs) 
• Freemium is compatible with Gold – Funders can 
choose to make premium features free for everyone
Thank-you for looking 
at this presentation. 
If you have questions, 
drop me a line. 
toby.green@oecd.org 
@tobyabgreen 
And thanks to Banksy for 
the ‘letting go’ girl

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Freemium open access publishing learning to let go

  • 1. Learning to let go . . . or How Freemium could be a fairer and more sustainable version of OA Toby Green Head of Publishing, OECD November 2014
  • 2. What’s in this presentation? Many argue that making all scholarly research freely accessible to all will benefit society at large. The only challenge is to find a way to cover the costs of publishing without putting up paywalls. In this presentation, I will argue that the two publishing models proposed to solve this challenge, the so-called Green and Gold Open Access models, will not meet this objective since neither model contains incentives for anyone to invest in making scholarly research accessible to a really broad audience (without which the benefits to society will be far smaller) – both are essentially ‘post-and-hope’ publishing models. I propose that a better model could be Freemium Open Access . . .
  • 3. Scholarly publishers are un-popular because they use paywalls (and maybe keep this book by their bedsides?) “Every successful brand in history is inherently unpopular with a specific demographic.” “Somewhere along the way, people felt they had to be popular in order to be successful, when in fact, the opposite is true.” “The brands playing in the space you want to dominate have already figured out the inherent power of being unpopular.” (Published by Wiley)
  • 4. Is there a broad audience? “The audience which finds your content interesting and useful is always larger than you think.” (because 40% of OECD populations are now university educated – see next slide) Practitioners, unaffiliated researchers, Students Researchers Authors educated layman . . . .
  • 5. 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 More graduates = more demand for a scholarly publications But they won’t all work in subscribing institutions Proportion of the 25-34 year-old population with tertiary education (left axis) Proportion of the 55-64 year-old population with tertiary education (left axis) Source: OECD (2014),Graph A1.3. Percentage of younger and older tertiary-educated adults (2012): 25-34 and 55-64 year-olds, and percentage-point difference between these two groups, in Education at a Glance 2014, OECD Publishing. DOI: 10.1787/eag-2014-graph3-en %
  • 6. . . . so, no wonder they’re calling for better access . . . No! You have to subscribe to knowledge!
  • 7. . . . and the policymakers and funders are listening . . . and acting . . . What do you mean, these reports cost money? We paid for the @*^%$ research!
  • 8. . . . so publishers are reacting . . . Don’t worry, Dad, I’m going to turn this company around 360 degrees!
  • 9. . . . by turning their attention to authors (and their funders) . . .at the risk of ignoring the needs of . . . READERS (and their institutions) Practitioners, unaffiliated researchers, Students Researchers Authors educated layman . . . .
  • 10. Open Access – find the missing words (you’ll find them on the next slide) movement mandates
  • 11. Open Access – find the missing words (isn’t the point to of OA to have lots of readers?) readers movement books data mandates
  • 12. Open Access Mandates “Thou shall deposit . . . and it will have impact” dissemination readers
  • 13. Open Access Mandates (remind me, what’s the objective again?)
  • 14. Open Access Mandates - so why don’t mandates include words like ‘dissemination’ and ‘readers’? dissemination readers
  • 15. Open Access business models summarised Green • Please post a version in a repository • Sometime later will do • I hope a lot of readers will benefit (although I have now given them a horrible user journey and taken away their economic ‘voice’) • I don’t want to think about costs (or the impact it may have on journal or book publishing on which an author’s reputation and career depends) • But my conscience is clear Gold • I’ll foot the publishing bill • I hope a lot of readers will benefit (although I have now taken away their economic ‘voice’) • I don’t want to think about future costs • But my conscience is clear *Source: Science Metrix (2014) http://www.science-metrix.com/en/publications/reports#/en/publications/reports/evolution-of-open-access-policies-and-availability-1996-2013
  • 16. OECD Publishing’s mandate MAXIMISE DISSEMINATION (i.e. everything has to be free) FULL COST RECOVERY (i.e. everything needs to be priced)
  • 17. So, how do we stay out of debtors’ jail? By using a: • Freemium Open Access business model
  • 18. Freemium ? freemium NOUN A business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for. Origin early 21st century: blend of free and premium. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/freemium
  • 19. Freemium is all about audience building and offering the option of moving up a value path Anonymous Free Registered Free To have enough Anonymous Paid Registered Paid of these . . . . . . you need loads of these. Therefore, audience-building is at the heart of Freemium Open Access
  • 20. Freemium – it’s about the value proposition “A business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for.” Free Anonymous Free Registered Paid Anonymous Paid Registered Discover and Read all content     Share, embed content     Personal services (e.g. alerts)   Download, cut/paste content (PDF, ePub etc)   Librarian services 
  • 21. Freemium must innovate and evolve Complex Needs Support for Innovation Time PREMIUM Read on PC Save offline, copy-paste Enhanced discovery Download associated data (StatLinks) Citation tools, Text mining Basic discovery Read on tablets Save in information management systems Share, Embed libraries FREE Simple FREEMIUM Personal services
  • 22. But my audience is too small! Remember me? Practitioners, unaffiliated researchers, Students Researchers Authors educated layman . . . .
  • 23. Audience building – how? Source: Edible Geography http://www.ediblegeography.com/the-spatial-distribution-of-americans- in-relationship-to-starbucks/
  • 24. Audience building – how? So, how can publishers do the same as Starbucks and take the content to the audience? Source: Edible Geography http://www.ediblegeography.com/the-spatial-distribution-of-americans- in-relationship-to-starbucks/
  • 25. By doing all the usual discovery stuff . . . Specialist bibliographic database 10% Library systems 10% Specialist portal (e.g. Repec) 6% Content aggregator (e.g. Proquest) 9% Community service (e.g. Mendeley) 6% Website managed by key authors in field 6% Author's website 5% General web search (e.g. Google) 10% Publisher's website 14% Email alerts 14% Special web search (e.g. Scirus) 10% Source: Gardner and Inger (2012): How readers discover content in scholarly journals
  • 26. . . . and using many delivery channels For professionals . . . . . . and the public
  • 27. But OECD Publishing has also learned to let go we now encourage anyone to read and then share and embed our publications in their websites and blogs for free
  • 28. All the content is free to Read Subscribers get access to the premium versions (PDF, ePub, Excel) Non-subscribers can purchase the premium versions too
  • 29. Read versions are optimised for all devices . . .
  • 30. . . . and then we let go . . . Clicking ‘Link/Embed’ . . . . . . brings this pop-up box . . . . . . which allows anyone to share, embed . . . for free. (so we’ve ‘let go’ our content)
  • 31. No permission or license required . . . Because it’s embedded, we know it’s there . . . . . . and we know the traffic too. These buttons lead to the premium versions on our website.
  • 32. Do we fulfil our mandate On dissemination? Dissemination (‘000) 18,000 16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 - Each colour is a different dissemination service or channel 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
  • 33. Do we fulfil our mandates On cost recovery? Dissemination (‘000) 18,000 16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 - We recovered our (growing) publishing costs in every year too. Each colour is a different dissemination service or channel 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
  • 34. In conclusion – Is Freemium a better form of OA? • Freemium means actively building an audience (You can be Free and not have many readers) • Freemium keeps the audience in the driving seat (You can be Free and ignore reader needs) • Freemium means innovation (You can be Free and stop innovating) • Freemium delivers value for money (You can be Free and build services that no-one uses) • Freemium gives taxpayers/funders a choice (To be Free taxpayers/funders must pay publishing costs) • Freemium is compatible with Gold – Funders can choose to make premium features free for everyone
  • 35. Thank-you for looking at this presentation. If you have questions, drop me a line. toby.green@oecd.org @tobyabgreen And thanks to Banksy for the ‘letting go’ girl

Editor's Notes

  1. To remind audience that the mandate is Part I statistical data only. No mandate or commitment on publications We will continue to sell, including statistical data services Publishing Policy is unchanged save for the commitment that 100% of Part I data be freely available in basic form
  2. Key message: Delta continues the existing practice of stepping up the value chain to find revenues and using these revenues to build improved free services to non-subscribers. This is why Freemium model can work: As new needs emerge, new, innovative, premium services are provided generating the revenues to enable mature services to become free.
  3. Did you know that 80% of the US popularion live within 15 miles of a Starbucks and no-one lives more than 140 miles from a Venti Latte? Just as Starbucks (and WallMart and IKEA and McDonalds . . even Apple) actively take their message to market and build distribution channels and outlets close to their target audiences, so must OECD. Can we get 80% of our audience within three clicks of our publications?
  4. Did you know that 80% of the US popularion live within 15 miles of a Starbucks and no-one lives more than 140 miles from a Venti Latte? Just as Starbucks (and WallMart and IKEA and McDonalds . . even Apple) actively take their message to market and build distribution channels and outlets close to their target audiences, so must OECD. Can we get 80% of our audience within three clicks of our publications?
  5. Gardner and Inger research reader behaviour among academic and high-level student audiences. They found that academics start their research for scholarly information in eleven places. A post-it and hope strategy would miss 85% of the starting points and signposts used by this audience – PAC covers almost all of these by actively posting metadata and/or full text content into these channels. The result is 122,000 referrals to OECD’s publications a month, 24% of all traffic to our publications.
  6. Other audiences are no different, they each have different online ‘forests’ where they go to find information – this is especially true among professional audiences – law, finance/banking, tax – and more recently policymakers with the launch of Bloomberg Government aimed squarely at those within the Washington Beltway last year. For non-professional audiences (citizens and civil society activists) we use consumer channels like Google Books, Amazon and Scribd. And all the while, PAC is actively using social media to promote and enable audiences to engage, to participate. Just as Starbucks opens close to their customers and uses social media to build audience share, so OECD does the same. And the results are good – around 360,000 readings a month via these non-OECD channels.