Four reports on the OA monograph: Review – Hill – – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

“Key points


Increasing interest in open access (OA) monographs is reflected by the publication of four reports in 2019.
The cost of transitioning monographs to OA is a constant source of concern among all stakeholders.
Print remains an important medium for monographs – but for how long?
The fully OA licences used for journals are considerably less popular within the monograph ecosystem.
The technical interoperability taken for granted among journals is not yet evident in digital monograph publishing….”

Research Library Digitization Has Found Its Moment  | Ithaka S+R

“Recent weeks have seen the collapse of the print format. With academic libraries closed during the pandemic, acquisition, processing, browsing, circulation, and interlibrary lending have come to a halt for tangible materials. 

But even before the pandemic, the primacy of print had passed. Academic libraries are no longer principally defined by their tangible collections nor even their physical spaces. They are easily the most digital part of the academic enterprise at traditional institutions of higher education. Libraries have fostered the creation of extraordinary digital collections, through a combination of content licensing, open access initiatives, and collection digitization. They have provided infrastructure and services that are accessible remotely. While libraries remain more than just their digital collections and services, the digital transformation has allowed libraries to provide tremendous value to the faculty members and students who have been displaced. 

One especially outright hero today is HathiTrust. Its Emergency Temporary Access Service enables its members to make vast swathes of their unavailable print collections accessible digitally. In essence, whatever components of a given member institution’s print collection have become temporarily unavailable can be “loaned” digitally to affiliates of that institution. For some members, this amounts to millions of books, in some cases well over half the print collection. The ability to simply “turn on” digital access to such a high share of the print collection on a temporary basis is an absolutely amazing benefit to Hathi members. It would be a surprise if other libraries were not clamoring to join the collaboration just for this benefit alone. …”

On a challenge of print subsidy for OA | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

“When a journal migrates across to OLH, we ask libraries who used to subscribe if they would consider supporting OLH. One reply we had to this was that the customer had “already bought the print version”, as though this covered our costs. There was a fundamental conceptual misunderstanding of what is being paid for when buying print as opposed to supporting a consortial membership model for OA, like OLH. When we sell a print copy, we are covering the costs to us of producing and shipping the object. An OLH membership, on the other hand, lets us create the OA and print editions. The media objects – digital or print – would not exist without this support.

Ways around this that I can think of: …”

For the Love of Literacy–Better World Books and the Internet Archive Unite to Preserve Millions of Books | Internet Archive Blogs

“Announced today, Better World Books, the world’s leading socially conscious online bookseller, is now owned by Better World Libraries, a mission-aligned, not-for-profit organization that is affiliated with longtime partner, the Internet Archive.  This groundbreaking partnership will allow both organizations to pursue their collective mission of making knowledge universally accessible to readers everywhere. This new relationship will provide additional resources and newfound synergies backed by a shared enthusiasm for advancing global literacy. Together, the two organizations are expanding the digital frontier of book preservation to ensure books are accessible to all for generations to come.

This new relationship will allow Better World Books to provide a steady stream of books to be digitized by the Internet Archive, thereby growing its digital holdings to millions of books. Libraries that work alongside Better World Books will now make a bigger impact than ever. Any book that does not yet exist in digital form will go into a pipeline for future digitization, preservation and access.  …”

Text of Digital Library Futures keynote (Cambridge, 21st May 2019) | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

There is a short story by the famous Argentine author, Jorge Luis Borges, of a civilization possessed of a holy book. The book must, at all costs, be protected and preserved for the future. It is encased within a dark and mighty sarcophagus to ensure its safety from quote “humidity, heat, damp, cold, ice, fire, wind, rain, snow, sleet, prying fingers, hard stares, the gnawing of rats, sonic disintegration, the dribbling of infants, and the population at large” end quote. The special caste of custodians in the story – a kind of priesthood of knowledge – are confident that they can protect the book; especially from this last and most damaging group, the population at large. Indeed, as time goes by and greater swathes of this growingly democratic population request access to the book, the priesthood formulate ever-more contrived rationales for the protection of the artefact. The intrinsic value of the book, to use a term from the report that forms the basis of today’s symposium, seems, in the story, to be increased by its scarcity of access, even as its instrumental value to society grows lesser by the day. For even the priesthood do not really know or understand the contents of the book that they guard. They have only the peripheral metadata context within which to work: the sacredness of the artefact, but also the sacredness of the notion of preservation. As preservation becomes an end in itself for the priesthood, the barbarian populace eventually overwhelm the fortification and prise open the sacred sarcophagus. The story draws to a close as the lay tribes examine the holy book, over the corpses of the priesthood, to find that it is written in a language and script that is completely indecipherable and that has been lost to time; as meaning has eroded over the span of artefactual preservation.

Borges, of course, never actually wrote such a story. But he could have and it did sound vaguely plausible as a transparent allegory of the phenomenon under discussion today. Namely: what is the tension between, and the resolution of, preservation and access for non-print legal deposit? How is it that we have come to a situation where the path-dependence of print has so thoroughly conditioned the access possibilities for the digital that its most salient property – that of non-rivalrous dissemination – must be once more made rivalrous and discarded? And what of the structures of meaning that themselves naturally erode over time, like an entropic process, in the digital space? How, without some form of continuous access, can we ensure that we can still read our digitally preserved heritage over even a decadal timespan?…

But the 909 articles published or supported solely by the platform that I run, the Open Library of Humanities, in its first year accumulated 118,686 unique views. That is, this tiny number of open access articles were viewed by more people than a UK national-level pilot giving on-site access to vast quantities of subscription material across all disciplines over almost double the same time period. This kind of study is most often used to show that “very few people want to read this material, so why should an industry reconfigure its economics to accommodate such changes?” I think that our platform shows exactly the opposite, though. For this is where my interests in open access coincide with issues of user-centric thinking about non-print legal deposit. In a world where we can demonstrate by example that there is an audience for even the most abstruse types of humanities scholarship, it is becoming increasingly problematic to separate preservation from any kind of distributed networked access….”

Worried About the Future of the Monograph? So Are Publishers – The Chronicle of Higher Education

From your perspective as the AUP’s new president, what are the most important issues facing scholarly publishers?

Crewe: Our biggest challenge remains the low sales of scholarly monographs, such as revised dissertations or scholarly books with a narrow focus in a small field. Libraries share copies, and individuals don’t purchase the new books in their fields as they did 20 years ago.

We want to publish these books. They are the building blocks of our own reputation and they are often groundbreaking, field-changing works. We’re looking for publishing grants to support them, and we try each season to publish enough profitable books to cover the losses on monographs.

But today’s model isn’t sustainable. There are a number of experiments under way to figure out how to publish specialized monographs in a freely available open-access format….”

No Big Deal | Library Babel Fish

“While our system is dandy for finding things we’re not allowed to share, it’s not always great at discovering open access materials. Quite often, an open access publication listed in a database or a book in the catalog will fail to link to the item, and that confuses students. The behind-the-scenes work that has to go into making things connect from one database to another or from a catalog to an electronic source is complex, and it may seem silly to worry about cataloging something that can be found with a Google search – but if our shared catalogs lead to things we can’t borrow but fail to find open access books, we’re really dropping the ball….”

Ways societies are transitioning subscription journals to OA: Interview with Mikael Laakso

“I’d say that the majority of the work that went into the report was a literature review. We were bringing together hundreds of different articles and reports about journals converting to OA. We used that from the outset to get an initial frame for understanding how, why, and when journals have converted to OA. We then approached a sample of stakeholders that we knew had interesting insights and experiences in observing and supporting these journal flips or conversions. We tried to cover most of the key areas that play a role in shaping the larger scholarly publishing landscape, so we got someone from the commercial publishing side, the research funder side, people who have been in positions in journals, and so on….

They are definitely rethinking economic models. For example, in Finland we’ve had an interesting proposal for a consortium model for funding society journals so that the flipped journals would be covered by the consortium of libraries or universities, but so far it’s been hard to get all libraries on board even though they all subscribe to opening science and they are all unified in the struggle against commercial publishers. It’s been difficult to kind of convince them that there needs to be a shift in their cost structure for supporting smaller society journals. I know that Canada is looking to do something similar, to have a consortium for flipping journals….

I personally do not think that author facing APCs are the future. That is not an effective use of time or money, and it puts many parts of the world and people at a disadvantage if they are not grant-funded or part of an academic institution….”


The Influence of Open Access on Monograph Sales : The experience at Amsterdam University Press

Abstract: : The hybrid model of Amsterdam University Press (AUP) combines monograph sales with Open Access publishing. This paper investigates the effects of Open Access publishing on the sales of monographs, taking into account the influence of: commercial potential; frontlist and backlist; and language. The data set contains sales figures of 513 books, spread over 36 months: 2010 to 2012. Over 70 per cent of those books are published on Open Access and are distributed through the OAPEN Library. Each influence is relevant, which makes it harder to single out the effects of Open Access. The large difference between frontlist sales figures and those of the backlist leads to a separate analysis. The frontlist sales are affected by a combination of commercial potential and language; Open Access publishing has no effect in this situation. For the backlist, Open Access publishing is a significant influence on sales only in the subset of books
whose print run is between one and 2000. No significant effect on books with a print run of zero, or on books with a print run between 2001 and 3000, could be measured. The hybrid model does not lead to more sales of monographs available on Open Access, and the loss of sales is negligible. The data suggest that a hybrid model is not an option to improve the sustainability of monograph publishing.

IOP introduces Print on Demand for journals – iopppublishing

“Readers, researchers and authors can now order print versions of IOP Publishing journals whenever they require them.

IOP Publishing’s journal titles will be available as Print on Demand (POD) copies, delivered through printing partner Hobbs.

Starting on 5 June 2018,  37 titles will be available in print via this system, covering issues from 2008 onwards….”