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Introducing the Open Book Collective

Marking the start of our outreach work

Published onApr 26, 2022
Introducing the Open Book Collective

The new Open Book Collective logo

Within the COPIM project (Community-Led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs), we have been working to address the challenges of funding Open Access (OA) book publishing. Our particular focus is on how to make it easier for academic libraries to support OA publishers and publishing service providers, thinking beyond Book Processing Charges. We are very pleased to announce that one of the main outcomes of this work will soon be launched:

The Open Book Collective.

The collective will bring together OA publishers, OA publishing service providers, libraries, and other research institutions to create a new, mutually supportive ecosystem for the thriving of OA book publishing. At the heart of the work of the Open Book Collective (OBC) will be a new platform. This platform will make it far quicker and easier for libraries and others to financially support different OA publishers and service providers via membership offerings.

We’ll explain more about how the platform will work in later blog posts, as well as confirming the formal launch date of the OBC. However, today we want to do two things.

First, we want to let the OA community know that we are beginning our outreach work via our social media channels and community. The OBC Twitter feed is now up and running and we will be providing regular updates both there and here on COPIM’s PubPub blog. These updates will include news on the development of the OBC community and platform. We will also publish a series of updates through our blog about the offerings that will feature on the platform, our governance structure, who is involved in the OBC, and how publishers, publishing service providers, and libraries can work with us.

Second, we want to provide an overview of the overall aims of the OBC and how it fits into COPIM’s broader work and ethos.

A new collective

The Open Book Collective aims to build new relationships between libraries and OA book publishers and providers, as well as to strengthen existing relationships. For too long, in our view, those working to support OA book publishing within academic institutions and those looking to produce and disseminate OA books to a wide, global readership have struggled to engage with each other in more collective, networked ways. Part of the reason for this is that the infrastructures and networks that might enable them to do so either do not exist or are not suited for the kind of equitable, sustainable, small-to-medium scale OA publishing we want to support. The infrastructures that do exist are often commercially owned or have been set up to primarily support closed forms of publishing, with only limited and often compromised opportunities for OA publishers. They may be aimed at models of OA book production dependent on the payment of Book Processing Charges (BPCs). A core aim of the COPIM project is to develop alternatives to BPC-based publishing.

At the heart of the OBC is a commitment to collaboration. Those involved in founding the OBC, together with those we hope will participate in the collective, are and will be committed to working together across the landscape of the open knowledge commons to enable a more sustainable future for OA book-length scholarship.

This commitment extends to the governance of the OBC. The governance structure will be grounded in the principle of the OBC being led by the community it services. This will mean giving the different stakeholders in OA book publishing — including publishers, publishing service providers, and libraries — direct and meaningful input and control over how the OBC operates. The OBC will be founded as a UK registered charity to guarantee its non-commercial, not-for-profit status. Full details of the governance structure will be released in due course.

What members of the collective do will vary. Some will be publishers whose outputs, audiences, and business models are different; others will be research libraries; still others will be OA service providers: those organisations that provide the infrastructural backbones for the production and dissemination of OA books. What members of the collective will share, however, is a commitment to building a knowledge- and resource-sharing ecosystem that will exemplify 

  • the care and curation of high-quality academic books; 

  • a commitment to bibliodiversity;

  • collaboration and resource-sharing over competition;

  • networked community-building over profit-driven centralization;

  • horizontal working relationships over exclusive hierarchisation; and

  • growing and safeguarding open accessibility to, and reuse of, academic books for global readers without technical or economic barriers.

The OBC aims to contribute to building a world where OA books in all their forms are produced and disseminated non-competitively and collaboratively.  Instead of dominant approaches to organisational growth that tend to flatten community diversity through economies of scaling up, our work is grounded in the ethos of ‘scaling small’ through intentional collaborations between community-driven book publishers, libraries, and publishing service providers. One of the OBC’s key ambitions is to support small to medium publishers and to ensure that they are enabled and supported to retain their individual character whilst benefiting from and contributing to a mutually supportive network. This approach stands in opposition to how most academic book publishing is currently organised, dominated by a small handful of large, for-profit (and a few non-profit) corporations. We also want to make it easier for librarians to find, assess, and access OA books via a simple, integrated, platform.

In keeping with our values of mutual support of and growing and safeguarding open accessibility, the OBC community offers a variety of options for participants to support OA books. We aim to assist publishers in distributing their output, networking, and moving away from dependence on Book Processing Charges (BPCs). The network emphasises open-source software, community-owned and -led open access, and enables a range of publishers to work together, either as individuals or consortia.

Follow our work

To stay up to date with the Open Book Collective, you can follow us on Twitter and you can also sign up to our mailing list via the form below.

The OBC social media channels are primarily run by Dr. Judith Fathallah ([email protected]), Livy Snyder ([email protected]), and Dr. Francesca Corazza ([email protected]). Judith is primarily responsible for outreach within the UK, Livy for US- and Canada-based contacts, and Francesca for European outreach.

Mailing list

You can also directly visit the Mailing List signup form here.

By signing up, you consent to the storage of the data provided in OBC databases. We will not sell or share your information with third parties unless required by law. To stop receiving emails from OBC, please send us an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Unsubscribe”. Your data will then be deleted.

Maximilian Petras:

Excellent! Will this extend beyond the UK, enabling membership for partners all over Europe?

Judith Fathallah:

Yes it will! We are hoping to include members from all over the world

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