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FW: [SSP-L] Should university presses adopt an OA model for all of their scholarly books?
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- Subject: FW: [SSP-L] Should university presses adopt an OA model for all of their scholarly books?
- From: <Toby.GREEN@oecd.org>
- Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2008 22:55:03 EST
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Heather's posting was originally sent to an SSP list. I replied to the posting and Joe Esposito commented on my reply. For the benefit of liblicensers both are pasted below. -----Original Message----- From: GREEN Toby, PAC/PUB Sent: 20 November, 2008 1:19 PM To: email@example.com Subject: RE: [SSP-L] Should university presses adopt an OA model for all of their scholarly books? Heather, Thanks for drawing attention to this article, which I've read with interest. Author-side funding is an potential revenue-earning model for book publishers - but it's not easy. We have an author-side funding business model available at OECD, but we've found that the scale of the funding needed introduces a barrier to publish. Authors, their governing bodies and funders, have a very simplistic view about the costs of publishing (tending to think the costs are limited to typesetting and printing) and take some convincing that they need to find $10,000 or so to cover publishing costs - even when we're using POD alongside our core online model. We're finding that we have to work with them upstream, when the funding is being negotiated for a project, to make sure adequate funds are available to cover the costs of publishing. This, of course, is a challenge since publishers are not usually involved at the conceptual stage of a research project. I think the analysis and conclusions in the paper don't reflect some of the realities of scholarly book publishing. Here are some reactions which might be helpful to UPs considering their next steps: The analysis shows that University Presses have been missing some big opportunities. Let me highlight a couple: 1. Export sales (estimated at 2%) are astonishingly low. If true, this suggests to me the UPs have been missing out on a large potential revenue stream (quite apart from missing out on a broader audience). I would have thought a US-based UP should be able to find at least 33%, if not 50%, of its market outside the US (leaving aside local interest titles, like the Civil War). 2. The impact of commercial publishers. The article shows that UPs were 'out-gunned' by commercial publishers. In the scholarly journal world, many learned societies (similar in many ways to UPs) responded by partnering with these publishers in order to retain/grow their market share. Maybe UPs could have done the same, retaining editorial control as learned societies do with their journals, but exploiting the financial muscle of their partner. Looking at Greco & Wharton's recommendation for the future, I think UPs need to think through the business model assumptions and the options further. 1. Marketing costs - they've cut marketing costs from $1000 per book to $100. In my experience, marketing costs do not fall when a book is available OA. You still need to promote a title as much as possible if it is to find a broad readership. Authors who have paid $10,000 will expect their work to be promoted or they'll take their 'business' to another publisher. 2. They've cut the trade discount to 0% - POD publishing still requires trade partners and they need to earn a cut on the deal to cover their costs. Trade costs will not change because of the printing technology used. 3. Net sales - just 25 POD copies! This is far too low. Our experience shows that demand for printed editions does not evaporate if a book is available OA. (Equally, they don't increase either!) 4. The overhead has been cut to $3,000 from $8,200 - beats me how this is possible when the complexity of offering a dual-track online-with-POD service is higher than a traditional, single-track, print-only service. 5. The authors assume deans and provosts will not take an OA monograph 'seriously' when considering an author for a position/promotion. If the book is properly published and is available in a traditional way (albeit printed digitally rather than offset) AND online, then deans and provosts will not be able to tell the difference (at least, our equivalents don't see it when we take this approach). OA does not demean the content - look at PLoS! 6. The authors seem to think e-book readers (like the Kindle) are linked to an ability to publish monographs online. Can't see this myself when monograph readers have access to the best reading device of all - the PC and laptop. I have yet to have a reader or librarian ask when our monographs will be available on a reading device - the only people who are asking seem to be the manufacturers. Toby Green >>>> >From Joe Esposito on 20th November Two footnotes to this exchange on university presses. Heather Morrison asserts that most university press books are sold to libraries. This is not true. Estimates for sales to libraries (almost always through intermediaries) range from 10% on the low end to 25% on the high end, with most press directors I have spoken to quoting a figure around 15%. Most press books are sold to individuals. Even when journals, a small component of American university press publishing, are added to the mix (where most sales go to libraries), libraries are simply not at the center of the university press world. Toby Green's memorandum is a welcome corrective to misconceptions of the economics of press publishing. I wish, however, to question one figure, the speculation that presses could or should have more than 50% of their business outside the U.S. The highest figure for international sales that I have seen (including Canada) is 30%. Most successful book publishers have international sales around 6%; 11% is quite an achievement. Many factors here, not all of which can be laid at the feet of press management; the single largest is simply that higher education is, after defense and Hollywood, America's most dominant industry internationally, comprising perhaps 40% of the total market. (Yes, it depends on how you put the statistics together.) Presses can and should work to improve international sales, but let's not set the bar out of reach. Joe Esposito