Open Access eBooks Part Five – Knowledge Unlatched

To honor open access week, I’ll be highlighting a different open access eBook platform each day. The purpose is to create awareness of various open access ebook collections. If you have collections to suggest, please let me know.

Today’s post is about Knowledge Unlatched.

Knowledge Unlatched is not yet an eBook collection, but an initiative to bring open access eBooks to fruition though the collaborative efforts of authors, publishers, and libraries.  It is an idea from Dr. Frances Pinter, Executive Director of Knowledge Unlatched.  I first heard about this initiative two years ago at the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference.  I spoke to Frances later and our recorded interview is available on the NSR interviews page. The initiative has grown since then and a three-year pilot project will begin in 2013.

From the Knowledge Unlatched website:

The market in scholarly books is inefficient and not working for anyone. In particular, monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences are in crisis. At Knowledge Unlatched we’re committed to trying to change this. We believe there is a way to make scholarly books available to end-users without charge, while retaining and paying for professional publishing services. That is our vision. Join us in making it happen!

Over the past few decades the market for monographs has shrunk by around 90%. Many libraries are unable to afford even a small collection of monographs. Individual readers who do not have access to a well-funded library are in most cases unable to afford to purchase titles that they want or need. A broken academic publishing model is preventing, rather than facilitating, the spread of human knowledge. The situation is especially grave for researchers and communities in the developing world.

Knowledge Unlatched is an initiative designed to make the market in scholarly books work well for everyone. Knowledge Unlatched is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) that will help publishers, libraries, authors and the wider community to reduce costs, mitigate risks and grow the market for scholarly books. The Big Innovation Centre in London is hosting the initiative during its incubation stage, including the pilot.


Previous posts this week on open access eBooks include:

Open Access eBooks Part One – The OAPEN
Open Access eBooks Part Two – SciELO
Open Access eBooks Part Three – DOAB
Open Access eBooks Part Four – CLACSO