Backlist to the Future: a new business model for university presses and open-access books | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing
flavoursofopenscience's bookmarks 2020-10-22
As part of my efforts on Work Package 3 of the COPIM project I am engaged in a project that seeks to convert publishers to business models that will allow them to publish their books openly, without using unaffordable book processing charges (which authors hate and which will not scale).
I am pleased to say that, as of today, we can announce the first press to take the leap: the Central European University Press. The model is called “Opening the Future”, although I preferred my punny title, as above.
How does the model work? It’s a subscription to the Press’s backlist that gets you access 50 titles via Project Muse. But here’s the cunning part: we are going to use the revenue from that subscription to the backlist to fund frontlist titles to become open access. The pricing is ultra-affordable with a combined frontlist/backlist combo aggregate average price of 10.67 EUR (about $12.50 USD) per title per library, if we hit our targets.
What’s good about this? We know - or, at least, in my experience of running OLH, have seen - that there are about 300 or so libraries who will support OA membership schemes. However, there are many many more who will purchase books. By having a subscription to purchase books, we broaden the pool to bring libraries who have not yet funded OA schemes into the fold. They come for the backlist and we hope that they will then stay for the OA. Would I prefer it if the backlist was also OA? Of course I would. But I think it is better, in the short term, to leverage this as a subscription so that we can get new library and institutional funding actors into the OA mindset.
What’s also good about this model is that it scales dynamically. I call this “elasticity”, although others don’t like the term. What I actually mean by it, though, is that the Press will continue to operate exactly as they are at the moment. However, the second we have enough revenue to make a book OA through the scheme, the next book to be published will be made open access. In this way, we don’t need to wait until we have 200 libraries to start making things OA. It can start once we have 8 members (as an example). We’ve also set a target to reach and, when we hit that, the membership fee can come down in subsequent years.