Knowledge Unlatched pilot project report available

Knowledge Unlatched released a pilot progress report summary today.  It is available for download.  Some highlights of the report are listed below.

1.  The model is cost-effective and financially viable:

“The Pilot established that authors, librarians, publishers and research funders are all willing to engage with the basic KU model. It also demonstrated that the model is cost-effective for scholarly communities and financially viable for publishers. 297 libraries from 24 countries signed up for the Pilot Collection, exceeding the original target by almost 50%. This reduced the cost for every library taking part from $1680 to $1195. Libraries paid an average of less than $43 (down from the target of an average of $60 per title) to unlatch each book in the collection, compared to an average hardback cover price of $95. Participating publishers received an average Title Fee payment of $12,000 for each book in the Pilot Collection, less any deductions for additional purchases (see section on preventing double payment). The geographic spread of the participating Pilot libraries was: 46% from North America, 26% from the UK and 28% from the rest of the world. 24 libraries from Australia took part in the Pilot: an impressive number, given that Australia has just 43 universities.”

2. The pilot study identified some unresolved issues:

Once it has reached scale, KU should be able to accommodate hundreds, and even thousands, of titles and to provide a viable option for funding large numbers of OA monographs. However, the limited scope of the Pilot necessarily left some important issues unresolved.
These include:

  • A lack of uniformity in publisher approaches to digital content, metadata and accessibility made the task of loading content onto hosting platforms complex and time consuming;
  • There is inconsistency in the approach to ISBNs across the Pilot Collection; this will make it harder to gather detailed information about Pilot Collection title usage;
  • The Pilot Collection will be accessible to communities with impaired vision via the HathiTrust reader. However, the accessibility of the collection could be improved in the future;
  • More work needs to be done to ensure that KU represents a practical option for librarians struggling to manage complex supply chains and workflows;
  • Questions about how the KU model might be shaped to enable diversity in the scholarly book landscape are yet to be addressed;
  • Further work is needed in order to understand how this model might fit with the value propositions and workflows of ‘pure OA’ publishers.