Charleston Conference – Funding of Open Access Books

Dr. Frances Pinter, Publisher, Bloomsbury Academic presented a new business model for the efficient and effective funding of open access “books.” (Frances presented this at the TOC conference and had an interview with me about the topic earlier in 2010 if you’d like more details.)

Dr. Pinter described her background in publishing and the focus of Bloomsbury Academic on open access publishing.

What does the academic community still want from publishers?  independent verification of quality, typesetting/editing, variety of formats, etc.  Frances also adds the “Mother-in-law” factor too, every academic wants a print copy of their magnum opus to present to their mother-in-law.

How are publishers responding?  experimentation, becoming service providers rather than gatekeepers, becoming co-creators of value

Frances compared the open access model to ice cream, stating:

  • What’s ice cream got to do with this?   plain vanilla – basic html open access publication
  • and the ice cream cone?  print book, ebook, eReader format of the publication
  • finally, the ice cream sundae?  enhanced eBook with the frills and thrills

How do we pay for the cost of open access publishing?  so far, they rely on the print/e sales, cost savings, and subsidies/grants.  Frances provided examples of several of these projects and questioned weather these models were sustainable.

The challenge is to find a sustainable funding model for the long tail of these open access publications.

STM journal open model won’t work because it is too high to get to first copy costs, particularly in SS/Humanities

If all UP’s went open access it would provide dissemination in the US, but what about the rest of the world?

How do we move from large, closed, open networks to a truly global free-to-end-user state?

Where are the funds to pay for this?

library budgets!?!?….how?   take a tiny part of the library budget and add it to an international consortia. The consortia pays for the fixed first copy costs of the digital file and puts the book up as open access.  The consortia decides what to purchase from the publishers.

Frances provided a breakdown of first copy costs and what the proposed costs of open access titles would be if 4%, 10%, and 50% of libraries worldwide were able to fund the first copy costs of these monographs.  She concluded that we need a conceptual mind shift.  We need to uncouple getting to first copy from other publishing functions and income streams.

Respondent – Sandy Thatcher, was completely in agreement to promote open access models for books.  He disagrees regarding the STM biz model not being viable and that the cost to get to first copy is so high (he feels it is $25,000). There is a rich terrain available for funding options for open access but he discourages the use of patron driven models to accomplish this. He wrote an article for this conference and will adapt it for ATG and encourages us to read this.