This report explores how publishers and authors can promote, nurture, and facilitate interaction with openly available books. Open access (obviously) opens up scholarship, but it also offers scope to enhance interactions between books, scholars, publishers, resources, librarians, and of course readers. This might take the form of creating communities and conversations around books, of gathering comments and hyperlinks, or of enabling updating, remixing and reusing, translating, modifying, reviewing, versioning, and forking of existing books. Open access, in short can create additional value and new avenues and formats that go beyond openness, by changing how people interact with books. Research shows that making books available in open access enhances discovery and online consultation (Snijder, 2019), but the short outline above makes clear that there is still a lot to be done to stimulate, explore, and practice the full range of book interactions made possible by open access.
The first part of this report provides a literature overview that identifies the opportunities that digital technologies and enhanced interactions with open access books can provide for scholarship; it outlines some of the main types of interactions around scholarship—and around and as part of open access books more in particular—that scholars are involved in; and it showcases some of the experiments within humanities book publishing with reuse and remix; finally it presents some of the main (technological and socio-cultural) inhibitions that have prevented further uptake of these practices. The second part of this report more closely explores the technical dependencies that the introduced interactions and affordances rely upon. Doing so, it outlines and showcases various open source tools,1 software, technologies, platforms, infrastructures, guidelines and best practices, that lend themselves to being adopted by publishers and authors (or by publishers and authors working in collaboration with each other) to facilitate interaction around their book(s). The third part of this report then summarises the findings of the previous parts and provides recommendations, guidelines, and strategies (again, both socio-cultural and technological) for publishers and authors to further open up their books and collections to community interaction and reuse.
The main communities we want to reach with this report are publishers and authors/scholars (or communities of scholars), to explore how they, by experimenting and often just making simple adjustments, can start to open up and stimulate interactions around their books. Where larger (commercial) publishers often have the resources to develop tools and workflows for interaction in-house (and often proprietary), scholar-led publishers, for example, although they have been at the vanguard of more experimental forms of publishing, have indicated that they often lack expertise and familiarity with more experimental forms of publishing and with the tools available to support them (Adema and Stone, 2017). We therefore focus in this report on open source tools and openly and freely available resources and guidelines that can help small-scale and not-for-profit book publishers that cannot afford to build their own custom platforms, to stimulate engagement around books. We also show various examples throughout this report of how publishers, publishing collectives and platforms, authors, and scholarly communities already are stimulating interaction around books in interesting ways and the tools and practices they have adopted to do so.
This report focuses on interactions with books and on books within the humanities and social sciences in particular. Many of the types of interaction and interactive practices we describe within this report (such as for example open peer review and data mining), are being used and adopted more commonly within the STEM fields (where their uptake is also more widely researched). The humanities (and to a lesser extent the social sciences) in general have lower adoption rates where it concerns these types of practices and also have field specific preferences (as well as prejudices) towards many of these practices, which will be taken into account and further discussed in this report.
As part of our research we have identified several types of scholarly interaction taking place around books. The first part of this report is structured around some of the more common kinds of interaction that open access books afford: annotations, open peer review, remix and reuse, social scholarship and networked books, and emergent practices (including versioning, forking, and human computer interactions). This report doesn’t aim to cover all forms of interaction around books but has chosen to focus on the kinds of interactions that publishers and scholars would be able to promote and recreate with relatively simple adaptations to their workflows, systems, practices, and licensing. Each of the above identified types of interaction around books will be discussed in the next section, including how we can stimulate them and what obstacles currently exist towards their more general implementation. Throughout the next part of this report we will also be providing examples from within humanities book publishing to illustrate the different kinds of interaction.
This report has been written as the second research report coming out of COPIM’s work package 6 (WP 6), which focuses on Experimental Publishing and Reuse and looks at ways to more closely align existing software, tools and technologies, workflows, and infrastructures for experimental publishing with the workflows of open access book publishers. To do so, it is co-producing several pilot projects of experimental books (which we are currently developing with communities of scholars and technologists and partner presses Open Humanities Press, Mattering Press, and Open Book Publishers), which are being developed with the aid of these new tools and workflows. As part of these pilot projects, relationships will be established with open source publishing platforms, software providers, and projects focused on experimental long-form publications, and outreach activities will be conducted with open access book publishers and authors to further promote experimental publishing opportunities. This work package also explores how non-experimental open access books are (re)used by the scholarly community, which is what this report focuses on. As such, it examines those technologies and cultural strategies that are most effective in promoting OA book content interaction and reuse. This includes building communities around content and collections via annotations, comments, and post-publication review (e.g., via the social annotation platform hypothes.is) to enable more collaborative forms of knowledge production. As explained above, to achieve this this work package will map both existing technological solutions as well as cultural barriers and best practices with respect to reuse and other emerging book interactions enabled by open access.
COPIM’s WP6 will also produce an online resource to promote and support the publication of experimental books. The first report we wrote for WP6, Books contain multitudes: Exploring Experimental Publishing, is a three-part research and scoping report that has been produced to support the development of this online resource. The third part of this scoping report reviews existing resources on tools, platforms, and software used in the production of experimental books, and sketches a roadmap and methodology towards the creation of the online resource mentioned previously. It also explores two key practices within experimental publishing and the creation of experimental books that will feature within this online resource, collaborative writing and annotation. The latter will also play an important role in this report, hence connections will be made between both reports as they further develop.
Similar to the variety of other reports and outputs produced in COPIM, this report is . Making use of PubPub’s advanced versioning functionalities , we will be updating this document over the next 1.5 years, thus allowing us to incorporate user feedback and new technological developments. We very much welcome feedback on the report. Please feel free to add comments to the PubPub version directly (account/login required), or contact us at [email protected].
Preferred citation: Adema, J., Moore, S., and T. Steiner (2021) Promoting and Nurturing Interactions with Open Access Books: Strategies for Publishers and Authors. Community-Led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM). doi: 10.21428/785a6451.2d6f4263 and 10.5281/zenodo.5572413