Eelco Ferwerda
OAPEN - The Case for Open Monographs

One can argue that traditional academic publishing is losing its sustainability. Continued price increases caused the serials crisis, which forced libraries to become more selective in their acquisitions. Many libraries have had to cut back on their acquisition of books, which in turn leads to the monograph crisis. On the journal side one of the answers to this development has been the adoption of Open Access publishing models. By now Open Access has developed into a mainstream model for journals and new journals are often Open Access from the start.

Monographs have so far not followed this route. Monographs are still primarily distributed in printed form and e-books do not seem to alleviate the economic pressures facing academic book publishers. As a consequence, traditional monographs are not only losing sustainability, they are in danger of losing their position as one of the primary channels of scholarly communication.

Adopting Open Access models for monographs will improve dissemination, discoverability, usage and impact, while at the same time providing opportunities to reduce costs through shared infrastructures and digital formats. Despite these obvious benefits, the transition to these models is slow and does not seem to gain the momentum that we have witnessed on the journal side.

The OAPEN Foundation (Open Access Publishing in European Networks), which started in 2008 as an EU-funded project, is one of the few international initiatives dedicated to Open Access monograph publishing. OAPEN develops Open Access models for books and works with academic publishers and research institutes to build a collection of Open Access books through the OAPEN Library.

To help make the transition to Open Access book publishing, OAPEN initiated two pilot projects and a new service dedicated to Open Access monograph publishing. The pilot projects will measure the effect of Open Access for books on sales, usage and impact. The new service is called the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), after the example of the Directory of Open Access Journals, and aims to improve the discoverability of Open Access books.

Bielefeld University Library - last update: 10/04/2012