Plan S, Alternative Business Models, and Open Access Monographs

Challenges in the Scholarly Publishing Cycle. 20th November 2019.

A research paper

Professor Martin Paul Eve, Birkbeck, University of London

Open Access (OA)

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

  • Gold: at publisher/source
  • 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.

Let's Start with a Problem

  • Mellon Ithaka study (2016): $15,140 - $129,909 [cost]
  • Palgrave: $95 x 200 copies = $19,000 [price]
  • Open Book Publishers: £10,512 (2015) [cost]
  • UCL Press: ~£14,000 [£400k/25 books/6 journals] [cost]
  • CUP: Variable Book Processing Charge: $10,000 [price]
  • Ubiquity Press: Book Processing Charge: £6,890 [price]

Pinter, Frances. “Why Book Processing Charges (BPCs) Vary So Much.” Journal of Electronic Publishing, vol. 21, no. 1, 2018. doi:10.3998/3336451.0021.101.

Where do these costs go?

Assume fixed costs:

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

Assume production costs:

  • Typesetting: £500
  • Copyediting: £500

How many books with 3x staff?

Book costs

My University's English Department's Entire Book Budget


Less next year

A matter of distribution: 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 a Book Processing Charge

  • 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
  • BPCs do not work well in the humanities
  • BPCs concentrate 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 [~£12m on res monographs] (source: SCONUL)

BPCs for monographs scale badly

BPC graph

UK REF costs for monographs

"to publish 75% of anticipated monographic submission output for the next REF would require approximately £96m investment over the census period. This is equivalent to £19.2m per year. Academic library budgets as they are currently apportioned would not support this cost."

Eve, M.P. et al., (2017). Cost estimates of an open access mandate for monographs in the UK’s third Research Excellence Framework. Insights.

Why We Must Solve These Economic Problems

Three Problems: researcher access, public access and re-use

Problem 1: Researcher access

See above: our book budget

Problem 2: Public access

  • Increasingly educated populace
  • Institutional missions to benefit society
    • Or what is a university?
  • The academy becomes irrelevant
    • Especially the humanities
  • Imagine a world of OA sciences and toll-access humanities

Problem 3: Restrictive Re-Use Rights

  • Photocopying licenses
    • Even for teaching
  • Text mining/derivatives prohibited
  • Inclusion in Wikipedia and other resources
  • Community translation

COPIM (Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs)

  • £2.2m funded project from Research England
  • Infrastructure work
  • Business model work
  • Converting university presses to OA

Other Models are Available

The End

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