Open Access Books at COASP 2018

26 September 2018

In its tenth anniversary year, the annual meeting of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association took place in Vienna and was attended by open access advocates from around the world.

One of the core goals of OASPA is “to support the transition to a world in which open access becomes the predominant model of publication for scholarly outputs.” The combination of the keynote lecture: Open Access Books – From Pariah to Shooting Star, and the following panel on Open Access Monographs revealed that this is an area where more can be done.

Only 10% of the academic book market is open access, and compared to journals, both funding and support is lacking for academics who wish to publish in this way, argued Sven Fund from Knowledge Unlatched.

Fund made a compelling case for the reasons behind the difference between the markets for open access books and journals. They are strikingly different with a few large players in open access journals compared to many small players and multiple languages for open books. There are a range of business models and of course much less funding available. Neither funders nor libraries even have a clear mandate to support books. Books published open access are downloaded an average of seven times more often than traditional subscription books, according to the report, The OA Effect, by Springer Nature last year. We can testify to high usage: some of our most successful books titles achieve more than 320,000 downloads after publication, while the average number of chapter downloads on our platform surpasses 50,000 per day.

Knowledge Unlatched made a compelling case that the discussion should be less about books and more about publishing formats in general that meet the needs of researchers and a similar point was made by Jean-Claude Guédon in the opening session, two days earlier:” In the future, the distinction between books and journals will disappear!” We should apply the same criteria used for books and journals we measure articles published against 

For now, if funding is the main challenge that academics face in opening up their books and monographs, the Knowledge Unlatched crowdfunding model can help. We are working with Knowledge Unlatched to ensure funding is available for high-quality open access engineering titles, and we are developing partnerships with others to help open up other areas of research.