Knowledged Unlatched invites university libraries to open access publishing pilot

This guest blog post was written by Lucy Montgomery, deputy director of Knowledge Unlatched.

Knowledge Unlatched is inviting university libraries to join the pilot of a new approach to achieving open access for specialist scholarly books.

Specialist books in the Humanities and Social Sciences, or monographs, sell for between $50 and $200. Monograph publishing is in danger of extinction. The average monograph now sells just 200-400 copies. In spite of eye-watering prices, monograph publishers are struggling to cover their costs and many are subsidized. There has to be a better way!

Knowledge Unlatched is helping publishers, libraries and authors to secure the future of specialist scholarly books by engaging with the possibilities of open access. By working together, libraries have an opportunity to create incentives for the open access publication of high quality, peer-reviewed books, providing publishers with room to innovate and ensuring that the knowledge contained in books is made available for free to anyone with an internet connection.

Here’s how it works: KU is helping libraries to pool their funds to pay publishers to make a book available under a Creative Commons NonCommercial license as soon as it is published. Publishers remain free to sell other formats.

KU is running a proof of concept pilot, inviting libraries to sign up to support a package of 28 new titles from 13 well-known scholarly publishers. If at least 200 libraries pledge their support for the package by February 28, 2014, all of the books will be made available as fully downloadable PDFs under CC BY-NC or BY-NC-ND. If more than 200 participate, then the cost per library will drop.

If the pilot is successful, KU plans to begin scaling up later this year: offering libraries more selection options including subject specific packages. It eventually aims to make individual titles available so libraries can select individual books that they would like to support.

See for more information. If you are a library sign up now. The closing date for the pilot is the 28th of February and every pledge counts!

If you are not a library but care about scholarly books, tell your librarian about Knowledge Unlatched.

1 thought on “Knowledged Unlatched invites university libraries to open access publishing pilot”

  1. When I went to college at Sacramento State back in 1995, the best piece of advice I received from a graduating Senior was “don’t buy textbooks.” Granted, I did save hundreds of dollars and I listened more in class as I was busy taking notes. However, even back in 95, the price of a book was $75 and the resale value was half that at best. Out of the 20 text books during my college classes I purchased, I only kept 2 and they were lower cost paperbacks. Now that my son is going to UC Santa Barbara, it’s just outright insane how much these things cost. There are websites that offer cheaper alternatives but the cost of college overall is well beyond what most would be able to afford. I’m really glad the cost of text books is finally being addressed in a serious manner.

    I thought this whole “Kindle” ebook reader might have taken care of costs but apparently it’s just as expensive only there’s even less overhead to the publishers!

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