The Open Library of Humanities

The British Library. 17th November 2017.

A research paper

Professor Martin Paul Eve, Birkbeck, University of London

Drivers of Publication

Symbolic Economy

The Symbolic Economy Maps onto the Real Economy

Library Economy

Brief recap: Open Access (OA)

  • Peer-reviewed research
  • Free to read online
  • Permission to re-use

  • Gold: at publisher/source -- NOT a business model
  • Green: institutional/subject repository

  • Gratis: free to read
  • Libre: free to re-use
Background image © PLOS. Used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

There are 100 people in a room for a talk

  • They have $10 each
  • The speaker speaks for free
  • The venue needs $50 to cover its staff costs
  • There are 40 talks per year

Subscription logic

  • Each person pays $0.50 and hears the talk
  • No payment, no entry
  • Each person can only afford half of the talks
  • The general public cannot attend

OA with an Article Processing Charge logic

  • The speaker pays the full fee ($50)
  • The problem is that the speaker only has $10
  • The general public and all others can attend

OA with consortial logic

  • 5 people attend each talk and pay $10 each
  • They let anyone else attend for free
  • Everyone can hear 50% of the talks, including the public

This is how OA looks in a dry funding climate

  • Is the "venue" overcharging?
  • The distribution of the economics is the most important thing
  • APCs do not work well in the humanities and elsewhere

How much does it cost to publish a (digital) book?

  • Mellon Ithaka study (2016): $15,140 - $129,909
    • (Don't tell the Deans)
  • Palgrave: $95 x 200 copies = $19,000
  • Palgrave: Book Processing Charge: $17,000
  • CUP: Book Processing Charge: $10,000
  • Ubiquity Press: Book Processing Charge: £6,020
    • [~$7k USD]

Where do these costs go?

Assume fixed costs:

  • 3x staff + on and estates costs
  • Travel
  • CLOCKSS, Crossref, COPE, COUNTER memberships
  • Crossref membership
  • Around £190k per year

Assume production costs:

  • Typesetting: £500
  • Copyediting: £500

How many books with 3x staff?

Book costs

BPCs for monographs scale badly + concentrate costs

  • 5,023 monographs in UK in 2013 by largest 4 publishers (source: Crossick)
  • At a £5,050 BPC (UP price): £25,366,150
  • At a £6,500 BPC (CUP price): £32,649,500
  • At an £11,000 BPC (Palgrave price): £55,253,000
  • UK spend on all books 2010/2011: ~£60,000,000 (source: SCONUL)

BPCs for monographs scale badly

BPC graph

Our Solution for Journals

Open Library of Humanities Megajournal / Multijournal / Not-for-profit / Collectively Funded

Support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

  • $90,000 planning grant
    • University of Lincoln, UK, 2014-2015
  • $741,000 sustainability grant
    • Birkbeck, University of London, UK, 2015-2018

The Subscription Model as it Exists

The current system: many libraries all paying relatively large amounts

The OLH Library Partnership Subsidy Model

Many libraries all paying smaller amounts

>~240 Libraries Financially Supporting the OLH in First Two Years

Some of the libraries supporting OLH: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cambridge

23 Journals on or Supported by the Platform (909 articles in first year)

Journals on the OLH platform Cost per institution per article: around $1.10 per institution per article. Target of 300+ libraries by end of year three. 118,686 unique readers. Average of 131 readers per article. $0.008 per institution per reader.

Ongoing Project to "Flip" Subscription Journals

Six additional journals joined in January 2017

Spreading The Model


The End

Thank you!

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