Back in October 2020, COPIM WP3 put forward a new idea for a collective funding model. In a blog post entitled “Backlist to the Future,” Martin Eve outlined a monograph subscription model in which libraries would pay a modest annual membership fee to a Press to gain access to a curated list of (closed) backlist titles. In return, the idea was for the Press to use the revenue from the backlist subscriptions to fund new frontlist monographs to become open access. This model aims to allow university presses to use their existing backlist to fund an open-access frontlist.
The idea built on existing successful library membership programmes at pioneering OA presses such as Open Book Publishers and punctum books. The Central European University (CEU) Press came forward early to volunteer as a pilot to run such a programme. From there, Opening the Future was born: the website went live for memberships in January 2021.
Since then, the scholarly publishing world has seen some similar-but-different initiatives in the offing (MIT Press’ Direct 2 Open launched this year, and others are in the pipeline). Nonetheless, we reached a critical COPIM milestone this week: CEU Press has already reached the threshold needed to begin funding their first titles in open access. Getting to this point is a tremendous achievement. We owe this success to several early-adopter libraries worldwide who now have access to between 50 and 150 backlist titles (depending on the packages they have chosen). As a result, they have boosted their collections while supporting new open-access scholarship. The pricing is ultra-affordable with a combined frontlist/backlist combo aggregate average price of 10.67 EUR (about $12.50 USD £10 GBP) per title per library, if CEU Press hits its targets. The absolute cost of participation is less than half a single APC at a commercial journal publisher.
Opening the Future is a collective subscription model that, through its membership scheme, makes library funds go further: achieving the dual objectives of increasing collections and supporting Open Access.
Words in Space and Time: Historical Atlas of Language Politics in Modern Central Europe by Dr Tomasz Kamusella will be the first title to be published OA through the programme. The atlas, available this autumn, offers novel insights into the history and mechanics of Central Europe’s languages as products of human history and a part of culture. It includes forty-two annotated and interactive maps.
Further titles will be announced soon and advance notice will be given to avoid any “double dipping”.
“With the Opening the Future model, CEU Press and COPIM developed a fair pricing system in the true sense of the word “fair” that allows libraries of all sizes and budgets to support OA monograph publishing in a sustainable way,” said Curtis Brundy, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Communication and Collections at Iowa State University, a member of the Opening the Future programme.
“During the past five years, the move toward open access for all publicly-funded research publications has become a new norm and goal. CEU Press with its own OtF project trailblazes this new ground as a leader in this regard,” said Dr Tomasz Kamusella, Reader at the University of St. Andrews, UK.
The Work Package 3 team and COPIM are thrilled at how much progress we have made in such a short space of time and are very excited that a second well-known university press will soon be launching an Opening the Future programme. Watch this space for further announcements…
For libraries or other institutions that want to support the move to immediate OA, without author-facing charges, more information can be found at https://openingthefuture.net/. For further details on the CEU Press pricing and structure, see the FAQs and resources web pages.
Image credit: Javier Quiroga on Unsplash