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Re: Should university presses adopt an OA model for all of their scholarly books?

My own recent back-of-the-envelope calculations showed that it 
would cost universities a total of $14 million annually to 
publish all university press journals and $200 million to publish 
all university press books annually as open access. This is based 
on the assumption that the average annual cost of publishing a 
journal in humanities and social sciences in university presses 
is $15,000 and that presses account for roughly 700 journals 
overall, and that the average cost of publishing a monograph is 
$20,000 and that the annual output of presses collectively is 
10,000 titles. These figures, of course, exclude all costs 
associated with printing, binding, and shipping physical copies, 
including warehousing. (Those costs constitute roughly 30% of the 
overall cost of publishing a monograph.) If POD is provided, 
there would of course be some income stream generated to offset 
those costs, but also some extra costs coming from the 
manufacturing and distribution of the POD copies. But when you 
think that even without generating any income, all the output of 
university presses, both journals and books, could be made OA for 
a total annual cost of about $214 million, that seems like a 
possibly wise investment--especially when you consider that this 
amount probably is less than the total of annual salaries for 
Division 1 football coaches! And if this cost were shared equally 
among all 3,000 American colleges, it would amount to less than 
$72,000 per university annually, a piddling amount. If the 
Carnegie classification were used as a basis for charging 
universities proportionate fees according to FTE student or 
faculty count, most colleges would pay far less than this.

So, do I hear a motion for funding university press operations so 
that all of our output could be made available OA--and we can 
stop arguing about copyright?

P.S. Maybe have Google contribute its $125 million to this goal 
instead of paying legal fees and startup costs of the Book Rights 
Registry for the settlement?

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State University Press

>At ELPUB 2008, Greco & Wharton presented a compelling case for 
>why university presses should adopt an OA model for all of their 
>scholarly books - a case based entirely on economics, not 
>Greco & Wharton present analysis showing how a small press 
>releasing 20 Open Access books would generate $128,511. in 
>profit; a large press releasing 100 titles would generate 
>$642,555.00 in profit (p. 11).
>This is based on a processing fee approach (G&W use the term 
>author- pays), with $250 as a preliminary charge, and $10,000 on 
>final publication. This is for electronic text, with 
>At first, this figure seems high, and I was quite sceptical. The 
>more I think about it, the more sense this makes. Like journals, 
>the primary market for scholarly books is academic libraries. 
>Instead of paying to purchase for very limited access (in print, 
>only one reader at a time - or none, if the book disappears), 
>why not work together to pay for production of a book for open 
>For further analysis and links, please see The Imaginary Journal 
>of Poetic Economics, at: 
>Any opinion expressed in this e-mail is that of the author 
>alone, and does not represent the opinion or policy of BC 
>Electronic Library Network or Simon Fraser University Library.
>Heather Morrison, MLIS
>The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics