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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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Do you think that the Subscribe-To-Open model could be applied to new academic presses who have no backlist?

Yes. The Open Library of Humanities, which I run, does not have a backlist but works on this model. It’s a great deal of work to set up and articulating the value proposition is more challenging, but it’s still doable.

Thank you for your presentation. You mention usage from 129 different countries during spring 2020. Is it possible to get country specific usage numbers?

I need to look into this but cannot promise. Usage statistics via geolocation are also not terribly accurate in many circumstances

Very interesting model, thank you. One question we are asked a lot as a publisher implementing an S2O model is around long term sustainability - why would libraries continue to subscribe. What is your perspective on this, how do you anticipate libraries will behave after that initial 3 years?

What happens when you have saturated your Library membership threshold, and “sold off” your backfile? How do you generate new revenue then to fund future OA monographs. The backfile is surely a finite resource that can only be “minded” so often?

Additionally, after a 3 year period when a subscribing institution owns perpetual access to the existing back title packages they selected, is future income generation modelled on some content still being published subscription only and new packages then becoming available to fund subsequent OA publishing?

I hope that, by the time we get there, the value proposition will be clear and that we’ll all be used to supporting OA monographs as infrastructural publishing activities. Our presses have enough back content to last a very long time, creating new packages etc. However, we need to use this “subscription” period as an interim to demonstrate the value of the frontlist being openly accessible. Demonstrating this value will mean that, by the time we get to the stage of “backlist depletion”, libraries will have been persuaded of the merit of and need to continue to support the model.

Really great presentation and a very interesting model, thank you! Are the projected numbers for the ratio of libraries joining to OA books published based on each library subscribing to one package? (i.e. would multiple-package subscriptions speed things up?) And what happens once the three years are up and the library then has those books in perpetuity?

Libraries can sign up for as many packages as they like! More signups will allow us to publish more books openly, sooner.

It’s an interesting business model. Given than you may not require all of the new titles released each year do you see this as a philanthropic initiative on the part of the library and the institution?

It’s possible that there is a philanthropic element involved. However, the model also yields outstanding value for money. If we can reach our targets, we’re looking at just 11 EUR per institution per book.

That was interesting, thank you. If I have understood, some monographs on the frontlist will be open access, whilst others will remain on a subscribe/purchase model. How does this process work for authors? If their aim is to make their monograph open access (e.g. due to funder mandate), at what stage during approach to CEUP do they know their book will be able to be made open access without the cost of a BPC to pay (I think the standard cost is £7,500 for a title up to 100,000 words)?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee to any author that their monograph will go through openly – unless we can get to the point where the press is publishing everything OA. The model does allow for multiple routes, though. If an author has a BPC, then they can use this. Some books can also go through Knowledge Unlatched. The titles that have funding from other routes, such as this, will not use funding from the Opening the Future programme.

As a librarian who makes decisions on whether or not to support these models, cost transparency is a priority, not least because I want to see the press is doing its utmost to keep costs down. Under this model, what is the overall cost to publish each title?

Our presses’ costs are pretty much in line with market rates; approximately 7,500 → 8,000 euros per title. The model doesn’t change the underlying cost structure; it just finds a new way of distributing the effort of paying for it.

How open do you think CEU (or other presses interested in this model) would be to developing OA frontlists “commissioned” by Library subscribers? I am thinking here of a use case where presses help develop OER and OA textbook content for the sector.

I cannot speak on behalf of the press, but in my experience, presses are always interested to hear what librarians and researchers want as readers, so I think there would be an openness to this idea.

Thank you Martin, great to see another really interesting model emerging in the OA book landscape. Our books budget is very much tied to reading lists and as a librarian I often wonder/worry about how OA books publishers in great schemes like this get into lists. We know they may be great value for money but we need a handful of the titles to be deemed essential by students and academics. I’d be interested to know what works, in your experience…

This is the challenge of tying the publication funding of niche research monographs to researchers and libraries’ readerly needs! It’s not a great way to handle it. We hope that Opening the Future allows both those with scholarly communications budgets for OA and those with traditional purchasing budgets to participate in funding an open future.