Developments in OA monograph publishing

One of the bigger concerns expressed about the ARC open access policy is that it includes all publication outputs. That means books and book chapters*.

So what is happening out in monograph-land? As book sales plummet and traditional academic publishers struggle for survival, some organisations are looking at alternative models.

This page is a summary of some of the new initiatives in this space. Posted originally in 2013  – and updated as needed. Please contact if corrections are needed.

* Bear in mind that the ARC policy only applies to research that is funded from the 2013 round and into the future. That research will need to be undertaken and then crafted into book form, so it is unlikely that the issue of making books open access under the policy will hit reality for many years.


University open access ePresses: Australia

ANU Press is the largest of university presses in Australia, producing 42 open access scholarly eBooks in 2012 and 55 in 2013. There is no charge for publication or downloading of electronic versions. The Press publishes ANU scholar’s work only and the author must provide work in the correct format and they source copy editing. A wide range of funding options are used by authors to cover costs.

Monash University Publishing’s scholarly titles are published online ‘open access’, ensuring that the reach and readership of these works is maximised. Print versions of Monash University Publishing titles are also sold through bookstores, ensuring maximum impact. Open to Monash and non-Monash authors.

The University of Adelaide Press publish scholarly books by University of Adelaide scholars. Titles appear in simultaneous print and PDF editions, which is free to download and print. Authors submit manuscripts in Word and editing and design is done by the Press.

UTS ePRESS publishes open access scholarly books from both UTS and non-UTS researchers. Books are published in online version only (in a variety of formats) but arrangements may be made for print-on-demand copies. There is no charge for publication or downloading electronic versions. Authors must provide work in the correct format and source copy editing.

Sydney University Press is a scholarly publisher, publishing books on Australian topics by researchers from across the country. Some titles are available as Open Access on release, others after a three year embargo.

University open access ePresses: International

MUP Open Monograph is an initiative from Manchester University Press (a founding member of the OAPEN project). For a fee (see below) authors have peer review, professional copy editing, design and typesetting, the publication of eBook versions and the option of a printed version.

Open Humanities Press collaborates with the University of Michigan Library (MPublishing) and uses the OMP software.  Scholars work on book series and act as editors, select the manuscripts and oversee the series. The monographs are then published in open access in HTML and in most cases the PDF is also freely available. Print and electronic editions are sold at reasonable prices to cover the production costs, pay author royalties and to subsidise other titles. Open Humanities Press explores new modes of publishing and peer review and leverages technology to create new forms of monographs, including their Living Books About Life series.

Athabasca University Press (AU Press) is the first scholarly press to be established by a Canadian university in the twenty-first century. The press disseminates knowledge and research through open access digital journals and monographs, as well as through new electronic media. One of their mandates is to publish innovative and experimental works (in both fiction and non-fiction) that challenge established canons, subjects, and formats.

Commercial publishers offering an open access option

Palgrave Open is a model proposed by Palgrave Macmillan, one of the largest traditional publishers of monographs in the humanities and social sciences. The 28 January 2013 announcement says – “Palgrave Open content will be freely available and searchable via Palgrave Macmillan’s  website or award-winning ebook platform, Palgrave Connect” (it is not clear if that means it is findable through general search engines). The fee covers editing, production, marketing and long-term preservation.

Brill announced on 19 August 2013 they were extending Brill Open, its Open Access model, to include books – monographs and edited volumes. Available to authors only upon acceptance of their manuscript for publication. This requires a positive outcome of the peer review process and Brill’s editorial decision making. Authors retain copyright of their work in exchange for a Book Publication Charge (BPC).

SpringerOpen charge an upfront fee at the beginning of the publication process. The eBook is freely available and: “in addition to this free electronic version, a print edition is offered for those who still wish to buy a printed book. The open access eBook is automatically included in Springer’s eBook Collections at no additional cost.”

Pickering & Chatto offer authors and their funders an Open Access option under the Creative Commons Licence CC-BY-NC for monograph submissions, subject to a publishing fee.

Open access titles will be treated in the same way as all our publications. They will receive the same high-quality service and production standards as our non-open access titles. They will:
• be subject to rigorous peer review
• receive professional copy-editing
• be produced with high-quality design and typesetting
• have a commercial printed hardback option
• be made available as a consumer ebook option including Kindle, Apple and Nook formats

Open access monograph publishers

Open Book Publishers are aiming to become the primary hub for free peer-reviewed research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Books are published in hardback, paperback, pdf and ebook editions, but they also include a free online edition that can be read via our website, or embedded anywhere. The website produces online supplementary material, including extra chapters, reviews, links, image galleries and other digital resources — these can be found on the individual product page for each book.

Ubiquity Press is a fully open access publisher, making all electronic formats of the monograph available online with a print on demand option. All books are published under a CC-BY license. They publish both individual and series books, all fully peer reviewed, and also support other university presses with the transition to e-publishing. Citations are tracked, which will enable authors to take credit for their book publications in the same way they currently do with journal articles. Books and chapters will be published with processing fees similar to those used for journals, based on the size of the work.

How much do commercial publishers charge for OA monographs?

The majority of University and scholarly society presses that publish on open access monographs do not charge authors or readers, except for those ordering print copies.

The OAPEN-UK HSS Researcher Survey (between Feb-May 2012) examined the source of funding for research underpinning authors’ last HSS monograph and found that only 22% came from research council grants, whereas 62% came from core university funds or self-funding.

As with open access journals there is a need for a new business model. The Wellcome Trust extended their open access policy to include monographs in 2013. They estimate:

the fee for existing open access options – ensuring all published material is converted to XML, and then made available in html and PDF – for books currently averages around £9,500, and we anticipate the average cost to make a book chapter open access will be £1,800.

In AUD that is approximately $16,400 and $3,100 respectively.

This book price seems to be halfway between what is charged by traditional publishers offering and OA option, and OA only publishers. Prices seem to vary considerably:

Publisher Fee schedule AUD approximation
MUP Open Monograph Up to 80K words £5900 $10,100
80-100K words £6500 $11,100
100-120k words £7100 $12,200
120-140K £7700 $13,200
Note if authors provide camera ready copy – charge could be up to 50% less.
Open Book Publishers £3,500 – £5,000Typical cost – dep on length of manuscript & no of images $6,000 – $8,600
Ubiquity Press £2,750-£3,250 – Typical cost – depending on length of manuscript and number of images $5,100-6,050
SpringerOpen €15,000 per title $22,000
Palgrave Open £11,000 per title $18,900
Brill Open CC-BY-NC (350 pages) €5,000 US$ 6,550 $7,200
Page charge >350 pages EUR 11 US $14
CC-BY price on request

Business model: Freemium

Because under the open access model the reader can obtain the work for free, costs need to be covered in different ways. Many of the new initiatives offer a basic service where the monograph is available free online, but a premium is charged for advanced features and functionality.

This model is called Freemium, invented by OpenEdition. OpenEdition Freemium is an innovation in the domain of open-access academic publishing. It is based on a hybrid economic model combining open-access to information and paid services generating income for the producers of its resources.

Libraries and publishers fund the project to create a sustainable alliance to promote open-access in the humanities and social sciences. Two-thirds of income is allocated to those journals and partner publishers who adopt the freemium model. The other third enables us to develop the platform. All income created by OpenEdition Freemium is then reinvested in the development of open-access academic publishing.

Business model: crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people. This is usually from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.

In the social sciences and humanities sphere the most widely known is kickstarter which sources funds for popular culture projects including books. The books may be print, online, audio or delivered in a variety of formats. While not all are made available openly they have a large following and have tapped into a significant market.

One crowdfunding e-book platform is which works with the publisher to agree a price at which a digital edition of the monograph will be published open access.

Innovative crowdsourcing for funding of research such as Petridish are likely to produce open access research outputs including monographs.

Business model: Library funded – Knowledge Unlatched

The basic concept behind Knowledge Unlatched is a consortium where groups of libraries contribute to fund the publication of open access books. By sharing the cost the libraries also share the risk. The consortium pays a fixed upfront fee which the publisher incurs pays for the publisher to publish the book online under a Creative Commons license. Publishers are able to create enhanced versions of the books for sale. The cost to each library for a book depends on the size of the consortium.

Assistance for open access publishers

Open Monograph Press (OMP) is designed to assist university presses, learned societies, and scholar-publishers interested in publishing scholarly books in print-on-demand and multiple electronic formats, whether on an open access or purchase basis.

The Public Knowledge Project released Version 1.0 of OMP in March 2013. This aims to be a ‘virtual-publishing-house-in-a-box’:

OMP is an open source software platform for managing the editorial workflow required to see monographs, edited volumes, and scholarly editions through internal and external review, editing, cataloguing, production, and publication. OMP will operate, as well, as a press website with catalog, distribution, and sales capacities.

The Library Publishing Toolkit is a new resource for libraries involved in publishing is the . There is a free e-book available for download from the site. This resource:

looks at the broad and varied landscape of library publishing through discussions, case studies, and shared resources. From supporting writers, authors, and filmmakers in the public library setting to academic libraries hosting open access journals and books, this collection examines opportunities for libraries to leverage their skills and resources to curate, create and provide access to content.

Hybrid Publishing works In collaboration with publishers, librarians, software developers, and authors. It is a lab that engages with new concepts and technologies in digital publishing with a particular focus on the humanities. Embedding its research results in economic contexts, for example by setting up a Hybrid Publishing Consortium to consult about Open Source software solutions, the Lab both carries out applied experiments in publishing as well as incubating new businesses. Central for the lab’s projects is the idea of Open Access regarding academic knowledge, research, and education as well as a strong curiosity about new business models in a disruptive digital environment.

Support organisations

OAPEN-UK commenced in October 2010 and is due to run until spring 2015. OAPEN-UK is a collaborative research project gathering evidence to help stakeholders make informed decisions on the future of open access scholarly monograph publishing in the humanities and social sciences (HSS). The project is linked to the Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN) project. OAPEN-UK is attempting to determine whether OA titles achieve more usage and more sales than print titles.

Portico is an e-Book long term preservation service. The “Portico” asks publishers to pay a financial contribution depending on their revenues.


The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) is a centralised service to support the discovery and dissemination of OA books, with admission criteria that have been developed to verify and accredit the publisher’s peer review and licensing processes.

OpenEdition is a multilingual, open catalogue designed to give humanities publishers a delivery platform, a revenue stream to support their transition to OA publishing and a host of other benefits. OpenEdition is the umbrella portal for OpenEdition Books (books in the humanities and social sciences – many in French it appears).

The OAPEN Library is a centralised European platform for OA humanities and social sciences monographs. It contains freely accessible academic books. OAPEN works with publishers to build a quality controlled collection of Open Access books, and provides services for publishers, libraries and research funders in the areas of dissemination, quality assurance and digital preservation.

The Open Access Directory maintains two lists. One is a list of OA book business models. Another is a list of Publishers of OA books .

The Open Access Tracking Project runs a feed on new developments on OA books.

Recent articles about OA monographs

The March 2014 (Volume 27 Issue 01) of Insights: The UKSG journal contains a Supplement on Open Access Monographs. A list of articles and abstracts is here.

Publishers explore OA monograph models”, Research Information (15 August 2013)

Open access monographs in the humanities and social sciences conference“, hosted by Jisc Collections and OAPEN at the British Library, (1-2 July 2013)

On the Status of Open Access Monographs”, Mercedes Bunz (2 July 2013)

Innovative approaches to publishing open access monographsJisc Inform (Summer 2013), Issue 37

Dr Frances Pinter explains the concept of Knowledge Unlatched in a You Tube clip “Libraries, Publishers, Consortia” – (8 mins)

Page last updated 1 April 2015

One thought on “Developments in OA monograph publishing

  1. The amounts charged by the commercial publishers are ludicrous! In many cases they wouldn’t make this amount on the priced books they sell. As usual, with the so-called OA publishing model, meaning author charging, the commercial publishers are trying to get it all ways possible. Has anyone noticed any decline in subscription costs as a result of author charging? Of course not, it’s just another income stream.
    There is another model, the self-publishing model, which is entirely straightforward using either Apple iBooks software, or an ‘agent’ like Smashwords ( All it needs is some competency in word processing and, where required, an ability to create and insert diagrams, photgraphs and video clips. All of this can be done in iBooks author, or you can send a Word file to Smashwords and it will generate the e-book formats on the fly.
    I recently published ‘Theory in information behaviour research’ in this way (, with a group of colleagues who contributed chapters on different theoretical frameworks. The book retails for US$9.99 instead of the US$50 or 60 a print version from a commercial publisher. The income (70% of the price, from Apple) goes to support the OA journal Information Research ( by agreement with all of the authors.
    This model could be readily implemented by university presses or, as in my case, by groups of interested academics. It offers the opportunity of delivering focused text-books or limited audience monographs at low cost and low price to limited audiences. Why the academic community at large has not yet seen the potential in the subsidised, voluntary work model of scholarly publishing is a continual mystery to me – are we so timidly incompetent?

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