Big in Japan, Zimbabwe or Brazil – global reach and national preferences for open access books
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-06-29
The perceived effect of internationalization on publishing is that there is a strong focus on global issues written in English only. In academic book publishing – strongly connected to the humanities and social sciences (HSS) – languages other than English play an important role. Non-English academic publications have been linked to regional issues: there is a tension between English as the ‘lingua franca’ enabling a global reach versus local languages that provide a better cultural ‘fit’. This article examines the preference of global readers in a systematic manner, by examining the usage of the open access collection of the OAPEN Library. Based on the ten most downloaded books from 100 countries during a 12-month period, the focus on regional topics is measured using the number of books written in non-English languages and the amount of English language books that mention the country. The results show a global interest in books with a regional focus. In many countries, the ten most downloaded books are written in non-English languages. Even when English language titles are part of the top ten, many mention regional concerns. The article counters the narrative of the dominance of English as the language of scholarly communication. Instead, it supports the value of bibliodiversity.
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