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Open-access books assist college press revenues

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Open-access publications can generate vital income, regardless of hesitancy amongst universities to embrace free and open on-line entry to analysis, a brand new report finds.

The Affiliation of College Presses, in collaboration with Ithaka S+R, revealed a report Tuesday taking a look at print income and its relationship to open-access monographs. Monographs, whereas outlined in a different way relying on the viewers, attraction to specialised educational readers and are usually longer than journal articles.

The examine categorized “open-access” monographs as any monograph that was free inside 12 months of publishing. It additionally outlined openness broadly, the place the monograph could also be free on-line, for instance, however not free in a print model.

In response to the examine, about 4,000 monographs are issued yearly, a quantity that has remained constant because the Nineteen Eighties. Nevertheless, gross sales of those monographs have declined over the past 20 years.

Of the college presses’ complete new monographic output, lower than 5 p.c is open-access titles.

“Open entry guide publishing stays on the perimeter of most college press guide applications,” the examine mentioned. The report attributed that, partially, to the comparatively unknown influence of open entry on print gross sales.

The examine reviewed 976 titles revealed between 2005 and 2022 to research the influence on print gross sales and the way print gross sales match into the open-access mannequin. Contributors included 26 publishers—most of them primarily based within the U.S.—that represented about 16 p.c of the college press neighborhood.

On common, open-access monographs generated about $16,000 in income, primarily from print gross sales but additionally from modest digital gross sales. Of these books, 30 p.c earned greater than $10,000 in income.

The examine famous the common consists of 13 top-selling outliers—every making over $100,000. When eradicating these prime sellers, the common open-access guide income dipped to about $8,800.

The examine said that open-access books can generate “vital” print income, “regardless of the preconception that there’s an inevitable tradeoff between OA editions and print gross sales.” Blended with different sources of income from library charges, grants, press subsidies and institutional help, the gross sales income might help construct sustainable open-access monograph fashions, based on the examine.

Hardcover and paperback open-access books each fared nicely in gross sales, the report discovered. For digital gross sales, equivalent to by way of Amazon Kindle books, 53 p.c earned at the very least some digital income, and 20 p.c of open-access books generated greater than $2,000 in income.

Practically half of the monographs within the examine have been within the social science disciplines. However STEM-focused monographs largely outperformed these centered on historical past, arts and humanities, and social sciences, with a median income of greater than $380,000. The lion’s share of that income stemmed from pc science monographs, which racked up a median of roughly $292,700.

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