TOC – Rethinking the Role and Funding of Academic Book Publishing

TOC - Rethinking The Role and Funding of Academic Book Publishing – Frances Pinter (Bloomsbury Academic), Feb. 24

Creating quality content is not without cost.  Frances discussed publishing monographs in academia, which is an endangered species.  print runs for academic books have been on a major decline. She focused on the SS and H (Social Science and Humanities) where the book form is still preferred over journal articles (unlike the sciences).  She offered a very interesting proposition to support an open access model for academic monograph publishing, supported by library budgets.  I hope Frances presents this to library audiences, because it’s worth thinking about and considering.  Libraries want open access, have declining budgets, and like to collaborate.  Her model addresses all of these factors. I’ll try to get her slides or check with her about an audio interview.

Can we go open access?  The challenge is how to fund it. Journal open access model is not feasible b/c getting to the first copy costs are too high, HSS research budgets and library budgets for these materials aren’t high enough to offset.  They need a new biz model, but how should we get there?

First look at what academics still want from traditional publishing – independent verification, editing/typesetting, brands, marketing, and they want “the book” (the publication) to present to mom.

ebooks will not save this, we have an expanding ecosystem (more universities, more research, more academics), everyone wants to see impact from the research they are funding (ROI), technology driven changes cost money, authors still want their royalties.

Publishers are racing to invest in new digital systems and develop new biz models

They plan to launch the Bloomsbury Digital Cafe online – an experimental lab with tools for collaboration, added value, CC licensing which they hope to monetize by giving things for free and expecting/hoping that people will buy something else (Flatworld Books example).

She hopes to find new pathways for money that already exists.  Where to look?  library budgets, rethink how libraries spend their book budgets. She’d like to take a small amount of the library budget and aggregate them world wide to create an International Library Coalition for Open Access Books (ILCOAb).  This will build on existing library consortia.  How does the model work?  publishers submit titles, ILCOAb decides what to purchase, publishers get to first copy stage, publish as open access, and sell content in print, ebook, etc.  She thinks we can get the copy of a monograph to $2.  ICOLC already exists, libraries are used to sharing/collaborating, both of which are benefits.

benefits for publishers:  full open access, stay in biz, secure a strand of work, concentrate on providing added value

benefits for libraries: smaller cost for monographs using same budgets, can buy  more