Guest Post - Does Open Access Cannibalize Print Sales for Monographs? - The Scholarly Kitchen
TomMosterd's bookmarks 2022-01-27
Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by John Sherer. John is the Spangler Family Director of the University of North Carolina Press. He is the chair of the Association of University Presses Open Access Committee and is the Primary Investigator in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded, Sustainable History Monograph Pilot.
Within the scholarly book publishing community, it’s not particularly controversial to claim that free digital editions of monographs will erode print sales. After all, who would pay for something they can get for free? These books already sell so few copies, and the economics are so unfavorable, that further revenue erosion could easily shatter an already precarious ecosystem. That said, there’s a growing body of research indicating that readers strongly prefer print formats for these publications (for example see the 2018 Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey and Naomi Baron’s Words on Screen). And there’s anecdotal reporting that in open access (OA) experiments at university presses, print sales have been stable. Can we review sales data for OA titles to find out if the claim of print cannibalization is true?