Might we lose money (shock) if we publish open-access?

A correspondent has drawn my attention to the OAPEN-UK project, and the participation of Oxford University Press in it.

This means that, temporarily, some monographs are online as PDF’s on various sites and accessible to us all, e.g. here.

I think we must all be interested in  this project.  It’s quite an interesting idea:

OUP is participating in OAPEN-UK, a pilot funded by JISC Collections and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to gather evidence on the viability of open access monographs in the humanities and social sciences. Our participation is running for the duration of the final year of the trial, from September 2013 – September 2014.

OAPEN-UK works by matching pairs of monographs which are similar in subject area, predicted sales, extent and publication date, and then publishing one open access and publishing the other in the normal manner, as a control.

The titles randomly selected to be open access have been made available as a freely available PDF on the OUP UK Catalogue, Oxford Scholarship Online, the OAPEN Library, and on Google Books. These PDFs are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence (CC-BY-NC-ND). In addition to this, these titles continue to be sold and marketed in the normal way (customers can still purchase print copies or ebooks, for example).

The control titles are not made open access and are simply sold, marketed and distributed in the traditional manner.

The titles currently accessible which might be of interest to us are:

What is original about this initiative — and well done JISC for funding it — is that it extends the idea of open access beyond journals into monographs.

The main concern of publishers is naturally their profits.  This can’t continue, since every other aspect of the process is state funded.  But the question of whether open access means that sales cease is a very interesting one.

My guess — and it is only a guess — is that they will, but only slightly.


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