OASPA Member Spotlight: African Minds
peter.suber's bookmarks 2018-12-12
"In 2000, I set up a company that offered publishing services to research NGOs in South Africa. These NGOs wanted to publish their research, and we offered them design, editing, typesetting and print management services. We encouraged our clients to use print-on-demand and we set up distribution channels for their publications. By 2008, we realised that some of the NGOs wanted a publisher rather than a service provider. So we began by setting up African Minds, first as an imprint and, by 2012, as separate legal entity in the form of non-profit, public benefit trust, with a board of trustees and an editorial board.
All our books are open access with no embargo periods, and we also sell printed books; the two aren’t mutually exclusive. We explore all available dissemination channels to increase access to knowledge.
We did some research on university presses in Africa and found that at one university over 60% of the books authored by academics at that institution over a 3-year period were published by a predatory publisher. We believe that our emphasis on working closely with authors and on being transparent contributes positively to growing the African knowledge base. We are a small team, but we try our best to deepen authors’ understanding of the publishing process by being responsive and accessible. And by placing the emphasis on access rather than on sales....
We aren’t reliant on income from book sales, so we don’t face the same challenges that commercial publishers do. Our overheads are low, and we have no permanent staff. We donate a much of our free time to running African Minds although this is beginning to change as the number of publications increases. All publishing costs are covered by the publication fees which, in turn, are paid from authors’ research funds. Although I should note that not all our titles incur publication fees. We are mindful of the fact that academics from some universities in Africa, and in some disciplines, struggle to secure research funding. In such cases, African Minds waives all publication fees. The forthcoming title, African Markets in Nairobi by Mary Njeri Kinyanjui is an example of such a title. ..."