“University of Michigan Press recently did a study of our http://www.digitalculture.org/books/ imprint — started a decade ago as an OA-to-read-online, purchase print or downloadable ebook “freemium” model like MIT Press’s approach. We found that while some books lost money and others made money the overall picture was one where the “direct” costs of production could be covered by the sales of print and downloadable ebooks.
These “direct” costs are around half of the actual costs of publishing books (they don’t take account acquisitions editorial activity, for example) so the picture was not ultimately of a sustainable approach for high investment university press books, but workable for titles with a more lightweight workflow. Of course electronic reading behavior keeps changing so assuming that readers of an OA book on screen might still buy print is a risky proposition.
This is perhaps a rather convoluted reply, but I think it illustrates that the question about sustainability of “freemium” models conducted without subventions doesn’t have an easy answer. There are case studies where it may seem to work, but there are others which tell a more nuanced story….”
“In conclusion, screen reading interfaces may contain an array of pros and cons, but the assumption that online information and publishing are always free is false. Internet access, electricity use and production, manufacturing of electronic devices, and the labor of writing and editing all come at a cost. Open access publishing is a solution created to solve this problem, which aimed to remove a portion of these costs from consumers and instead have the authors pay to become published. However, this model also contains many pros and cons, being very controversial in the publishing domain. Open access publishing may widen the audiences of articles, yet it can also lead to lower quality in articles and to legal issues. The future of open access publishing relies on authors themselves, because they make their own decision to publish their articles in open access, or to publish their article in an academic journal.”
“In the humanities, however, two challenges have hampered open access adoption.
Most versions of ‘gold’ open access require researchers or their funding institutions to pay the costs of publication as an ‘article processing charge,’ or APC.
And much of the research published in the humanities and social sciences takes the form of books, which naturally have higher processing charges than articles do.
Knowledge Unlatched attempts to solve this problem by importing into academic publishing a crowdfunding model not unlike that of Kickstarter.
Working with publishers to create a list of books to be “unlatched”–made freely available–it then assembles a consortium of libraries to pay the costs of publication. If enough libraries commit to funding a title, then the book is published. Each library that pledged receives a print copy, and ebook versions are made available for anyone to read as open access.
The model is finding support.
Since Frances Pinter launched Knowledge Unlatched in September 2012, the organization says it has facilitated the publication of more than 400 books in its first three collections. In February, it announced the success of its latest unlatching, its largest to date: 343 titles from more than 50 publishers.
A fourth collection now is being assembled, with the pledging process expected to start next month. This will be the first collection to include journals.”
“In January, Egypt is going to launch the Egyptian Knowledge Bank. Anybody with an Egyptian IP-address will be able to get free access to academic journals, ebooks and other publications that normally only would be available to a small circle of individuals that are affiliated with well-funded universities.”
“Welcome to Building Manifold, a blog that will document the process of creating Manifold Scholarship, a project at the University of Minnesota Press in partnership with the GC Digital Scholarship Lab at the Graduate Center, CUNY and Cast Iron Coding. Manifold Scholarship is funded through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of a series of 2015 grants made to university presses.
Manifold Scholarship is composed of two parts:
1) The creation of Manifold, an intuitive, collaborative, open-source platform for scholarly works. With iterative texts, powerful annotation tools, rich media support, and robust community dialogue, Manifold will transform scholarly publications into living digital works.
2) Rethinking the print-focused mode of scholarly authorship and university press editorial procedures and production workflows to accommodate the differences in creating content for iterative, networked publication….”
“KU Libraries and the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright continue their commitment to open educational resources (OER) by publishing Dr. Razi Ahmad’s open textbook entitled, ‘Tajik Persian: Readings in history, culture and society.’ This book is available through KU ScholarWorks, KU’s open access digital repository, and is also indexed in the Open Textbook Library, a free online collection of more than 360 openly licensed textbooks curated by the University of Minnesota based Open Textbook Network.
‘It has been a great experience working with all the library faculty and staff who helped me on this project,’ said Ahmad. ‘Tajik is one of the critical languages for which there exist very limited pedagogical materials for elementary and intermediate-level and virtually negligible for the advanced-level students. ‘Tajik Persian: Readings in history, culture and society’ is a modest attempt to provide instructors and students free of cost advanced-level textbook that can be used as the primary or supplementary material in classrooms.’
Currently, ‘Tajik Persian: Readings in history, culture and society’ has more than 141 views from nine countries.”
“Download hundreds of free audio books, mostly classics, to your MP3 player or computer. Below, you’ll find great works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, by such authors as Twain, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Orwell, Vonnegut, Nietzsche, Austen, Shakespeare, Asimov, HG Wells & more. …”