Firenze University Press is at the forefront for open access (OA) publishing in Italy. By opening up access to more than 1,300 academic books and 50 peer-reviewed journals over the past decade, it has helped its research community to achieve wide and rapid dissemination, increasing exponentially the impact of their research. Today, all Firenze University Press content and metadata are published open access and are discoverable through the tools of transformational infrastructure organizations such as DOAB, DOAJ, and OAPEN.
Besides UC Library Search, many of the press’ publications, along with other Italian OA publishers, are also available through Casalini Libri’s online platform Torrossa.
The University of California has taken a multi-faceted approach to supporting open access (OA). For instance, UC’s open access policies ensure that university-affiliated authors can deposit their final, peer-reviewed research articles into eScholarship, our institutional repository, where the articles may be read by anyone for free. The UC has entered into several transformative open access agreements, with the dual goal of enabling universal open access to all UC research and containing the excessively high costs associated with licensing journals. UC also has been supporting new publishing models, such as Berghan Open Anthro’s Subscribe-to-Open.
At the local level, UC Berkeley Library continues to offer the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII). This program helps UC Berkeley authors defray article processing charges (APCs) that are sometimes required to publish in fully open access journals (note that BRII doesn’t reimburse authors for publishing in “hybrid” journals—that is, subscription journals that simply offer a separate option to pay to make an individual article open access). This past year BRII provided funding for the publication of 83 open access journal articles.
The Office of Scholarly Communication Services is involved in several efforts to help journals change from subscription access to open access, including through Transitioning Society Publication to Open Access (TSPOA), and the Open Access Community Investment Program (OACIP).
Ok, great. But what about books?
The number of open access books continues to grow. As of August 2021, the Directory of Open Access Books indexes 43,793 books. The Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association recently reported that over 1,600 open access books were published by its members in 2020, which represents a growth of over 16% over the previous year.
We know that not all University of California authors are publishing journal articles, and many disciplines—such as arts & humanities and social sciences—focus on the scholarly monograph (in other words, a book) as the preferred mode of publishing. And in contrast with journal articles, books typically cost significantly more to produce. At the systemwide level, the UC is supporting several open access book publishing ventures, including The Open Library of Humanities, which publishes open access scholarship with zero author facing charges, and Knowledge Unlatched, a collection of primarily open access book publishers seeking support from libraries.
So what is UC Berkeley doing to support OA book publishing? Let’s have a look.
Springer open access books partnership
In March 2021, UC Berkeley Library entered into the first-ever institutional open access book agreement with Springer Nature. The partnership provides open access funding to UC Berkeley affiliated authors who have books accepted for publication in Springer, Palgrave, and Apress imprints. This means that these authors can publish their books open access at no direct cost to them. The agreement covers all disciplines published by Springer. It will last for at least three years, and aims to support the publication of four open access books each year. All the books will be published under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
The first book published open access under the UC Berkeley-Springer agreement is Probability in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, written by Jean Walrand, Professor in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley. It is available as a CC-BY licensed PDF and EPUB.
Professor Walrand wrote in an email about open access and free digital downloads affect how students and other readers interact with the book.
“Digital resources are more convenient than printed material for searching, hyperlinking, frequent updates, and general access. They enable animations, videos, and interactions with the material, its users, and authors. Moreover, availability of code that complements publications is important in our field. Students are used to reading online. In STEM fields, printed materials are becoming obsolete. However, I believe that carefully edited material is valuable and that good publishers have a useful role to play as editors of digital resources. The open access model is a good step to evolve the role of publishers and libraries. This transition is happening quickly and is challenging.”
BRII support for open access books
We already mentioned how the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative helps UC Berkeley authors publish articles in fully open access journals. BRII funding can also be used to help authors pay book processing charges (up to $10,000/book) so that their monographs can be published open access.
BRII funding has helped several UC Berkeley authors make their books immediately available for free under Creative Commons licenses.
Last year, Jordan Gowanlock (UC Berkeley postdoc in the Department of Film and Media) completed Animating Unpredictable Effects: Nonlinearity in Hollywood’s R&D Complex. The open access book was published by Palgrave Macmillan under a CC-BY license.
Chris Hoofnagle, UC Berkeley Law Professor and Faculty Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, will publish Law and Policy for the Quantum Age in October 2021 through Cambridge University Press. The open access book was co-written with Simson Garfinkel and will be made available under a CC-BY-NC license. In an email, Professor Hoofnagle wrote about the importance of open access and the financial support he received from BRII:
“Publishing open access is critical to the academic success of this work. A book format was necessary to explain the history and nuances of quantum technologies. Open access gives the work the public availability of an article and the room needed to develop a story that can’t be told in an article-length exposition. We are thankful to BRII for this support.”
Open access at the University of California Press
UC Berkeley Library continues to support open access book publishing via Luminos, the OA arm of the University of California Press. The Library membership with Luminos means that UC Berkeley authors who have books accepted for publication through the UC Press can publish their book open access with a heavily discounted book processing charge. When combined with additional funding support through BRII, a UC Berkeley book author could potentially publish an OA book with the costs being covered fully by the Library. Luminos books are published under Creative Commons licenses with free downloads.
What Is a Family? Answers from Early Modern Japan was published by Luminos in 2019, with financial support from BRII. It was co-written by UC Berkeley Department of History Emerita Professor Mary Elizabeth Berry. What Is a Family? is available as an openly licensed ebook in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF formats.
Pressbooks open book platform
The UC Berkeley Library hosts a version of Pressbooks, an online platform through which the UC Berkeley community can create open access books, open educational resources (OER), and other types of digital scholarship. UC Berkeley authors have published several books via Pressbooks over the last year, including Euripides Scholia, The Discipline of Organizing, The Languages of Berkeley, and Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining.
Pressbooks provides for web viewing, as well as ebook downloads in a variety of formats, including PDF and EPUB. Anyone with an @berkeley.edu email can create and publish ebooks on Pressbooks. And, the Office of Scholarly Communication Services continues to offer small grants of up to $5,000 to Berkeley faculty or instructors who wish to create open educational resources or open textbooks that are aimed to be used in instruction.
Investing in the broader OA book publishing community
Back in April we wrote about how the UC Berkeley Library’s Collection Services Council was working to develop local best practices to guide investment in open access products and services. The Library is now working on an implementation plan that embeds the criteria into decision making about whether (and how) to invest in OA resources, memberships, and projects, including OA book publishing initiatives.
We’re starting to kick the tires of the review criteria and process based on requests we’ve already received to invest in new types of open access book support models. For example, the University of Michigan Press is testing a publishing model that asks for upfront investment from the library community in order to support new open access book publishing. Under their Fund to Mission Open Access Monograph Model, if the press meets a specific financial investment goal, they’ll make 50% of their 2022 titles open access. The more investment they receive from the library community, the greater percentage they publish open access from the get go. Libraries are granted term access to their backlist for the duration they are offering support. UC Berkeley Library has evaluated the proposal of the University of Michigan Press Ebook Collection and decided to financially support the initiative for the next three years.
In this post, we discussed the many ways that the University of California—and specifically UC Berkeley—is supporting scholarly authors to create and share open access books. In addition to providing financial assistance, platforms, and publishing guidance, the Library is committed to promoting the broader OA book publishing ecosystem through strategic investment of our collections budget. We’ll continue to explore a variety of approaches to support the UC Berkeley community (and beyond) who wish to publish books on open access terms.
Cross-posted at Springer Nature.
Agreement to publish open access books across all subject areas will increase the reach and impact of future publications.
Berkeley | Heidelberg | London, 23 March 2021
Springer Nature has signed its first ever institutional open access (OA) book agreement with the University of California, Berkeley Library. The agreement will cover a broad range of book titles across all disciplines — from humanities and social sciences to sciences, technology, medicine and mathematics and, starting in 2021 and running for at least three years, will provide open access funding to UC Berkeley affiliated authors. The open access book titles will publish under the Springer, Palgrave, and Apress imprints, with initial titles set to publish later this year.
This agreement with UC Berkeley Library follows the UC systemwide landmark transformative agreement with Springer Nature announced last year to enable UC authors to publish research articles open access in over 2700 Springer Nature journals. While the transformative deal covers the publication of journal articles, books are the common or expected publishing format in some disciplines. The need to account for a variety of scholarly outputs prompted UC Berkeley Library to sign a new agreement providing direct assistance to book-publishing authors.
The books will be published under a CC BY licence and readers around the world will have free access to the books via Springer Nature’s content platform SpringerLink. With research showing that open access books are downloaded ten times more often and cited 2.4 times more, this important agreement will significantly enhance the visibility, dissemination and impact of important academic research.
Niels Peter Thomas, Managing Director Books, Springer Nature, said:
“We are delighted to be partnering with UC Berkeley Library in what is our first ever institutional partnership for open access books and our first US agreement for open access books. This represents a big step towards ensuring access to funding for book authors. By utilising our experience as the largest academic book publisher and expertise in enabling the transition to open access, we look forward to increasing the impact and reach of book authors at UC Berkeley and their research.”
Jo Anne Newyear-Ramirez, UC Berkeley Library’s Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources, said:
“UC Berkeley Library has been working with publishers to create sustainable and inclusive paths to open access, for both scholarly articles and books. For the past several years, through our Berkeley Research Impact Initiative, we have covered a significant portion of book processing charges for any open access book our authors publish, but this agreement with Springer Nature takes an even bigger leap forward. Under this agreement, we will cover 100% of standard publishing costs for open access books that UC Berkeley authors publish with Springer Nature for at least the next three years. This will help yield important progress on our journey to advance knowledge by making more UC Berkeley-authored books open to the world. We’re equally thrilled to be pioneers among U.S. academic institutions in entering into this type of agreement with Springer Nature.”
About UC Berkeley Library
The UC Berkeley Library is an internationally renowned research and teaching facility at one of the nation’s premier public universities. With 24 distinct destinations, including Doe and Moffitt libraries, The Bancroft Library, the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, and an array of subject specialty libraries, the UC Berkeley Library offers services and materials that span the disciplines. The Library holds paintings, lithographs, papyri, audio and video recordings, and books, and offers robust services that connect users with these remarkable resources — and more — to inform their research and advance their understanding of the world.
About Springer Nature
For over 175 years Springer Nature has been advancing discovery by providing the best possible service to the whole research community. We help researchers uncover new ideas, make sure all the research we publish is significant, robust and stands up to objective scrutiny, that it reaches all relevant audiences in the best possible format, and can be discovered, accessed, used, re-used and shared. We support librarians and institutions with innovations in technology and data; and provide quality publishing support to societies.
As a research publisher, Springer Nature is home to trusted brands including Springer, Nature Research, BMC, Palgrave Macmillan and Scientific American. For more information, please visit springernature.com and @SpringerNature
UC Berkeley Library: With questions about this agreement, please contact UC Berkeley Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UC Berkeley community creates a vast array of knowledge and educational content, including thousands of journal articles, books, data sets, and other scholarly projects each year. UC Berkeley authors, like those throughout the University of California campuses, take to heart the university’s public research mission, and aim to make these materials broadly available, not just to researchers and students here, but to anyone around the world. The push for improved access to the research record is what led to the adoption of UC’s two open access policies, which help ensure that journal articles authored by UC Berkeley scholars can be made available to the public for free, without any financial, legal, or technical barriers to readership other than gaining access to the Internet, itself.
Headway with open access journal articles
Within the publishing enterprise, the creation of journal articles is a foundational activity for many faculty, as the UC conducts nearly ten percent of the academic research and development activity in the United States. So, it is not surprising that for authors writing journal articles, there are a variety of ways to make their research open access. For instance, UC’s open access policies guarantee that UC authors can deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts into eScholarship, our institutional repository, where the articles may be read by anyone for free.
Another way the UC has been furthering open access is by negotiating transformative agreements with scholarly journal publishers (like the one with Cambridge University Press). These new arrangements repurpose the funds the library typically spends on subscriptions to instead subsidize publication costs—over timing shifting the bulk of payments to cover publishing rather than access to content, as more and more of that content becomes free to read.
Other local programs, such as the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII), provide funding to help UC Berkeley authors pay for article processing charges that are sometimes required to publish in fully open access journals. (These up-front fees serve to replace revenue the publisher would have generated through library subscriptions.) In 2018-2019 the Library was able to defray the article processing charges for more than fifty UC Berkeley authors looking to publish in fully open access journals.
Ensuring books don’t get left behind
But for some disciplines, the scientific journal takes a back seat to other types of outputs such as scholarly monographs (a fancy term for books). In areas such as the arts, humanities, and social sciences, communicating knowledge through book form is just as common, and just as relevant, to scholarship.
Significantly, the audience for monographs is not just other faculty: Monographs form a key component of what gets assigned for student reading in university classrooms. Assigning open textbooks instead of commercial offerings can be a big help to students’ bank accounts. Some college textbooks cost over $200, and prices have risen 88% in the last decade. Rice University’s OpenStax has produced dozens of open textbooks, and recently reported that in 2019 alone, nearly 3 million students will save an estimated $233 million by using its open textbooks. The benefits of open access textbooks extend beyond just cost savings for students, though. When books are made available under open licenses that permit broad reuse, instructors may continually build upon, improve, and re-share these educational materials. And authors can communicate with diverse audiences and begin to address inequities in access to knowledge, as translations or localized and contextualized versions can be developed and used.
There’s no discrepancy in the overall quality or effectiveness of open textbooks versus traditional ones. A recent study confirmed previous research showing that students learn just as well from open textbooks as with commercial texts. Likewise, university presses follow the same peer review and editorial processes for the online versions of monographs as they do for the print versions. The only change, and benefit, is that the final text is available for free to read.
So, it is clear that we have an imperative when it comes to open access books: How can we work to open up long-form scholarship to the world to mirror the strides we are making with journal articles?
Publishing books under open access terms is increasingly common, but still somewhat slow to tip the balance relative to book publishing overall. A recent report on the state of open access monographs found that there are around 19,000 open access books in total, even though approximately 86,000 scholarly monographs are published internationally every year. Part of the impediment for publishers is navigating how to recover their investment for the production of open access books, and the concern for libraries rests in how to sustain the publishers that take on these projects. This is because monographs are typically more complex and costly to produce than a journal article. A journal publisher might ask for an article processing charge of between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to make up for what it would have received in subscription sales. But publishers estimate that producing monographs costs them anywhere between $28,000 and $40,000 in production and marketing costs that they believe they can’t recoup without print sales.
The good news is that some emerging funding models are helping to bridge the cost recovery gap— including work by groups such as the Open Humanities Press, Knowledge Unlatched, and TOME. The University of California Press also supports the creation of open access books, too, through its Luminos initiative. In these and other models, production costs can be outsourced, and there are multiple funding streams (including fairly large subsidies from universities and libraries) that can offset some of the publisher investment. Some university presses are also finding that offering online versions of books actually drive up sales for print-on-demand copies. So, it shows we still have a lot to learn about actual costs and cost recovery with open access books.
UC Berkeley has got your open access book covered
For all of these reasons, the UC Berkeley Library is committed to supporting the creation of open access monographs. In 2017 the Library expanded the BRII program so that Berkeley authors could publish scholarly books open access at zero or substantially reduced costs—making these books free and accessible to readers here at Berkeley, and everywhere.
In just two years, we have now supported more than a dozen authors in the creation of open access books, with everything from copyright guidance to publishing platforms to funding. (You can read more about some of these efforts here.) And through BRII, we have already funded the publication of three UC Berkeley authored or edited open access monographs hitting the digital shelves now (or soon). These books are available for free online under a Creative Commons license (which allows a variety of reuses), and typically offer multiple formats for reading on various mobile devices. Readers that still wish to enjoy the book on paper can do that as usually there’s also a print copy available for purchase, or more affordable print-on-demand options.
We are thrilled to be able to support such cutting-edge and important UC Berkeley scholarship. For instance, #identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation, recently published by the University of Michigan Press, was edited by UC Berkeley’s Abigail De Kosnik (Associate Professor in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance, and Director of the Berkeley Center for New Media) and Keith Feldman (Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies). #identity is made available for free in EPUB and PDF formats under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license, or for purchase on the University of Michigan Press website.
The book contains essays from scholars affiliated with UC Berkeley’s Color of New Media collective, and explores social media through the lens of social justice movement organizing, the adoption of hashtags in online communications, and the “ways in which Twitter has been used by, for, and against women, people of color, LGBTQ, and Global South communities.” Feldman describes the book as attempting to address foundational questions such as: “Is the field of new media studies presumptively white? What do scholars of color and communities of color think about the field, and what kinds of interventions can be made along the way?”
Even though the idea to publish #identity as an open access book came midway through the publication process, all the authors thought that opening the book for free access and download was a positive move. Keith mentioned that as most of the essay contributors were graduate students or postdocs, it gave them an opportunity to share their work quickly and effectively, and start building their scholarly reputation.
What Is a Family? Answers from Early Modern Japan was published just this week on the UC Press’ Luminos platform. It was authored by Mary Elizabeth Berry (Class of 1944 Professor of History Emerita at UC Berkeley) and Marcia Yonemoto (Professor of History at the University of Colorado Boulder). What Is a Family is made available for free in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF formats under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) license, or for purchase on the Luminos website.
Finally, Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy will be published in 2020 by Ohio State University Press. It was written by Mario Telò, Professor of Classics at UC Berkeley, and will be open access upon publication.
Creating open textbooks with Pressbooks
Another way we’re supporting open access textbooks is through the UC Berkeley Open Book Publishing Platform. The platform runs on PressbooksEDU, an easy-to-use web publishing tool that lets authors design and publish books and open educational resources (OERs) online. Anyone with an active @berkeley.edu email can use this digital publishing software for free. Our office worked with UC Berkeley faculty during the 2017-2018 affordable course content pilot program to explore how instructors could shift from using traditional textbooks to using (or creating) open textbooks. We estimated that switching to open educational resources could save students more than $100 per course.
With grant funding, copyright, and publishing support from our office as part of our OER program, John Wallace, lecturer in the Japanese Department at UC Berkeley, was able to write and recently publish his new book, Interpreting Love Narratives in East Asian Literature and Film. It’s available as a PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license.
Interpreting Love Narratives was, for John, an exercise in writing a book in a new way. He noted that many small traditional presses in the language fields are quite narrow in the form, length, and substance of monographs they will consider taking on. However, with the PressbooksEDU publishing format, John was able to find the freedom to write and organize a book to meet his own needs. One benefit to digital production and editing is that since contemporary fields like neuroscience are changing so fast, his book can be easily updated. “It’s liberated me to make statements based on scientific developments that at least I could do something about if the ship turned in a different direction,” said Wallace.
Improving affordability to student textbooks is a major reason John took on writing an open access book. In his Japanese grammar class, the books typically assigned to students cost anywhere from $50 to even $100. “I can’t do it. These students don’t have a lot of money,” he said. “So instead, I’m going to put together my own materials.”
Wallace sees a bright future for open access books. He thinks that open and online is going to be the primary format for how people are publishing things. “I can’t imagine given the costs and the process of the traditional system against the alacrity and agility and distribution power of open…I don’t see how it can’t be the winner in the long run.”
If you’re considering publishing an open access book and are seeking funding and guidance, or are an instructor looking to get involved in creating or adopting an open educational resource, please get in touch! Also, if you’re interested in learning how to use Pressbooks, check out the workshop on October 15. We are here to help bring your work to the widest possible audiences.