Open Access books are a relatively new phenomenon, but interest in publishing them has been growing in recent years, and many publishers now offer open access publication options for books. This page answers a set of frequently asked questions by UC faculty about open access book publishing and provides links to resources to help you find an appropriate publisher for your book, as well as some more fundamental information about funding, copyright, academic credit, and peer review.
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Why should I consider publishing my book open access?
Open access publishing allows your work to be published in a manner that allows scholars and researchers worldwide to have free, immediate digital access to your book. This publishing model significantly enhances the impact of published scholarship by making it openly available to those who are unable to access it through institutional purchases, including those at institutions whose libraries do not have large collections budgets and those in lower income countries. Beyond this, open access books can be made available both in part and in their entirety to students free of charge.
Open access publishing also enhances discoverability and citation of your work by making the full text of your book available to search engines and discovery services as well as providing immediate, friction-free access to the content directly without requiring institutional authentication. Some studies have shown that open access books are 2-½ times more likely to be cited than non-OA books and are downloaded 10 times more frequently.
Do OA books count toward tenure and promotion?
If a book is published open access by a reputable publisher with a rigorous peer review process, there is no qualitative difference between that book and a book that is made available through paid access models, such as sales and subscriptions. Publishers as varied as Oxford University Press, MIT Press, SpringerNature, Elsevier, and the University of California Press all offer some open access publishing options for monographs, and monographs published by these publishers must meet the same rigorous editorial selection criteria that monographs published through their paid access programs must meet. Additionally, there are several non-profit publishers with strong reputations, such as Open Book Publishers, that publish only open access monographs. Books published by such publishers bear the imprint of those publishers and meet all quality standards otherwise required by those publishers.
Where can I publish my book open access?
The OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) Open Access Books Toolkit provides valuable information about open access book publishing, including links to the Directory of Open Access Books, which contains links to nearly 45,000 open access books that have been published by over 660 publishers. The directory enables you to identify publishers that have published books in open access formats in your specific discipline. When you submit a book proposal to an editor at a press listed in the Directory of Open Access Books, ask whether open access publishing is an option and what programs the publisher offers to support open access book publication.
If you are looking to start an open access book series, you might consult with eScholarship Publishing at the California Digital Library or UC Press. Both of these publishing programs are affiliated with the University of California and can provide guidance and/or potentially services to help you start an open access book series.
What are the funding models for open access books?
Funding models vary for open access publication with some publishers able to provide financial models that allow authors to publish at no cost to themselves or their parent institutions and others that utilize a mixture of funding sources, including some contribution from an author or an author’s institution to support publication of a monograph. Reputable studies of the costs of monograph publication have pegged the direct and indirect costs of publishing a single monograph somewhere in the range of $20,000 to $40,000 depending upon the type of publication, so publishers often require some commitment on the part of the author to help find funds to help cover the costs of publishing open access.
Does open access mean that my book will be free to read?
Yes, open access books are free to read with no digital rights management software to restrict access to the content. Typically, an entire book is made available in either a PDF and/or EPUB format that allows the reader to download and read the book on the e-reader of their choice. Because they are made available in downloadable formats, open access books can also be freely shared among readers.
Does publishing open access mean that no print copy of my book will be published?
Open access publication does not necessarily mean that no print copy of the book will be made available. In fact, publishers often make a print version of the book available for sale as a way to partially underwrite the costs of open access publishing. Demand for print editions of books continues to be robust, and making print copies available for sale allows publishers to recover some of the costs of open access publication, permits readers to purchase a print copy, and enables authors to have their work available in the format that is most convenient and provides the most utility for readers. Library publishing programs have integrated print-on-demand with campus bookstores so that students can use their printing allowance and have utilized POD services so that readers outside the institution can order a print copy at cost.
Can I retain the copyright to my book if I publish it open access?
An author may be more likely to retain copyright for a book published open access, because the publisher will not have to rely on future sales and licensing of the book as the only way to cover the costs of publication. However, the contract between author and publisher determines who will own copyright for a particular book, and contracts vary greatly from publisher to publisher. If keeping the copyright to your book is important to you, and your publisher does not habitually let authors retain copyright for books published open access, be prepared to negotiate for the rights you want. Consult the Authors Alliance guide to Understanding and Negotiating Publication Contracts to learn more about negotiating with publishers.
Can I receive royalties if I publish my book open access?
In general this needs to be negotiated with the publisher and policy varies from publisher to publisher, but there is nothing preventing authors from receiving royalty payments if a version of the book (for instance, a print edition) is made available for sale. However, for scholarly books, royalty payments are often quite small, so you will need to decide whether your wish to receive royalty payments outweighs your willingness or interest in making the book openly available.
Can you explain how Creative Commons licenses work?
Creative Commons (CC) licenses allow copyright owners to grant broad permission to the public to use a creative work, so long as they provide proper credit. If a work is CC licensed, someone who comes across it can copy it, distribute it, or display it publicly without needing to contact the copyright owner. Using CC licenses for open scholarship is a best practice because it encourages sharing work widely and building on it. Some publishers publish all their open access books under the same CC license, and others will allow the author to choose a specific license. Read more about the license types in the Open Access Books Toolkit. Different types of CC licenses allow for different types of reuse, so be clear about the potential benefits of any license type before selecting it.
Are open access books peer reviewed?
Open access monographs that are published by members of the Association of University Presses, members of the Library Publishing Coalition, and many commercial publishers affiliated with the professional and scholarly publishing division of the Association of American Publishers and similar organizations worldwide are formally peer reviewed. When deciding to publish your book open access, always check the credentials of the publisher to which you submit your publication proposal. OAPEN’s Open Access Books Toolkit has some helpful guidance on finding an appropriate publisher that conducts rigorous peer review. If you are unclear about the scope of peer review for your book manuscript, address your questions directly with your editor during the submission process and ask them to clarify their process.
How does UC support authors of open access books?
UC supports faculty authors of open access books in a number of ways both by providing direct financial support and as well as advising potential authors about their publishing options.
- Many campuses’ libraries support open access monograph publishing programs as contributing members to publisher programs. Through these programs, faculty members are eligible to receive discounted publishing fees and other benefits. Consult your local library for details on which benefits are available to faculty on your campus.
- UC Press publishes open access monographs through its Luminos program. All Luminos titles are peer reviewed and approved by the Editorial Committee of the UC Academic Senate prior to publication.
- The CDL provides publishing and hosting services for open access monographs published through campus-based series.
- Some UC campuses support open access monograph publication through the TOME (Toward and Open Access Monograph Ecosystem) program.
What are some other resources that I can consult regarding OA books?
The most comprehensive resource available online to support faculty interested in open access book publishing options is OAPEN’s Open Access Books Toolkit. While the toolkit is geared towards scholars and researchers in the European Union, it offers a very good overview of the various issues involved in open access book publishing and also provides solid direction on negotiating some of the hurdles.
UC also provides open access book consultation services via the eScholarship Publishing program of the California Digital Library as well as UC Press. While both of these UC-affiliated publishers have their own open access book publishing capabilities, they can also help you understand your options and help steer you in the right direction for your publication.
Who can I contact at my campus if I have further questions?
To contact eScholarship Publishing, send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For campus support you can contact: