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

Yes, in that sense, the net increase of costs to universities would be far less than the figures I projected as TOTAL expenditures. And of course my calculations are very rough and ready and make no allowances for books and journals that are longer and more complicated, such as the art history titles we publish, whose migration to the digital age involve impediments unique to them. University presses publish a wide range of titles, everything from short poetry books and short-story collections to massively illustrated multi-volume tomes, with everything in between those extremes. And I didn't even try to take account of the types of works that take full advantage of the technological medium we now have available, as exemplified in the Gutenberg-e and ACLS Humanities E-Book Project, which are immensely costly enterprises. (On Gutenberg-e, see my article forthcoming in the December/January issue of Against the Grain, as well as Kate Wittenberg's own post-mortem forthcoming in the December/January issue of Learned Publishing.)

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State University Press


While I agree with the thrust of your post, it should be pointed
out that the figures you use are BEFORE subtracting what various
universities pay now.  Universities (through their libraries)
probably purchase 85% of university press journals, and libraries
probably purchase somewhere around 15-25% of university press
books.  So you can subtract these percentages from your figures.

But of course a lot more would change if the "system" went OA.

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sandy Thatcher" <sgt3@psu.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 7:47 PM
Subject: 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