The Anti-Ownership Ebook Economy: How Publishers and Platforms Have Reshaped the Way We Read in the Digital Age


This report explains that, while there is nothing new about publishers’ desire to seek novel ways to increase revenues, along with control and surveillance of readers, the new publisher-platform partnership creates a mechanism to align the ebook market with those goals. That new market alignment raises questions about whether these shifts are the best option for readers and institutional book buyers, particularly libraries. It also raises questions about how the newest players in the market — ebook distribution platforms — shape things to align with their own interests.

In order to fully understand the dynamics at play, we interviewed over 30 stakeholders that fill various essential roles in the ebook marketplace, from publishers to platform CEOs to literary agents, librarians, and lawyers. We discussed the priorities, concerns, and constraints that help shape their participation in the ebook marketplace. Our goal was to understand and document how this world looks through their eyes, and synthesize those views into broader conclusions.

https://tinyurl.com/4762bbyv

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"Archiving Website-Based References in Academic Papers: Problems Caused by Reference Rot, Potential Solutions and Limitations"


With this background in mind, this paper has three objectives. First, it provides several examples of studies that have attempted to quantify or characterize reference rot of web-based references, and consequences of this phenomenon. Second, we provide a short practical ‘manual’ that would allow academics or editors to manually archive web-based references at the Internet Archive. Third, we assess some technical and practical suggestions for improving the landscape of digital information preservation while taking into account human and technological limitations.

https://doi.org/10.1002/leap.1560

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Paywall: The Strategic Marketing of Science, Technology, and Medical Journals: A Business History of a Dynamic Marketplace, 2000–2020


This book analyzes the various economic and marketing strategies utilized by the five major STM commercial scholarly journal publishers since 2000. This period has witnessed tremendous economic, marketing, and technological growth including the migration from a print only to a hybrid publishing format. With this growth, the industry has also seen the rise of open access publishing, copyright challenges by websites such as Sci-Hub, the emergence of sharing platforms such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu, as well as the impact of Plan S on publishers, universities, and authors.. . . Scrutinizing the different managerial, marketing, technology, and economic-financial strategies crafted by scholarly journal publishers between 2000-2020, this book offers a comprehensive assessment of the industry’s attempts to identify, understand, cope with, and minimize or defeat the herculean threats to its business model.

https://tinyurl.com/5n6rd8xy

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"SSP Conference Debate: AI and the Integrity of Scholarly Publishing"


At the annual meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing held in Portland, Oregon last month, the closing plenary session was a formal debate on the proposition "Resolved: Artificial intelligence will fatally undermine the integrity of scholarly publishing." Arguing in favor of the proposition was Tim Vines, founder of DataSeer and a Scholarly Kitchen Chef. Arguing against was Jessica Miles, Vice President for Strategy and Investments at Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.

https://tinyurl.com/ururdfvw

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"The State of the Field: An Excerpt From the 2023 Library Publishing Directory"


The most common material types reported in 2023 were journals (89%), conference papers and proceedings (80%), theses and dissertations (75%), educational resources (66%), and monographs (60%). Under half of respondents (46%) reported publishing datasets. Other material types reported include gray literature, newsletters, multimedia, expansive digital publications, and databases. . . . Over 80% of respondents provide copyright support and DOI assignment. Over half provide metadata services (71%), author advisory services (66%), training (66%), ISSN registry (64%), hosting of supplemental content (60%), cataloging (56%), and analytics (55%). The decline in the number of library publishers providing digitization services holds steady with 49% of respondents in 2023 identifying it as one of their services.

https://tinyurl.com/yhwp4pph

Access the entire directory.

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"Open Access Books through Open Data Sources: Assessing Prevalence, Providers, and Preservation"


In total, 396,995 unique records were identified from the OA book bibliometric sources, of which 19% were found to be included in at least one of the preservation services. The results suggest reason for concern for the long tail of OA books distributed at thousands of different web domains as these include volatile cloud storage or sometimes no longer contained the files at all.

https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-02-2023-0016

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"New UVM Press Breaks Down Barriers to Scholarly Publishing"


The University of Vermont has launched an open-access academic press aimed at removing the financial barrier between peer-reviewed research and audiences worldwide. Fully funded by the university and overseen by UVM Libraries, the UVM Press operates under a "diamond open access model"— meaning that authors pay no fees to publish with the press, and readers pay no fees to access the press’s published materials. . . .

Bryn Geffert, UVM’s dean of libraries, has experience with open-access publishing having launched the Amherst College Press in 2013. Geffert also led a consortium of libraries in establishing the open-access Lever Press in 2016. Geffert believes that the role of a library is to connect patrons to information, making UVM Libraries a logical partner for managing the UVM Press.

https://tinyurl.com/bdfa8msf

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"Beyond BPCs: Reimagining and Re-infrastructuring the Funding of Open Access Books"


A major issue is that the sheer cost of BPCs [Book Processing Charges] makes them an extremely expensive way of funding Open Access books. For large commercial publishers, BPCs of £11,000 and more for a conventional academic book are typical. Given very few academics would themselves have the capacity to easily cover these kinds of costs, BPCs are usually paid by universities or funders — sometimes from a specific fund set aside to cover the costs of Open Access publishing, sometimes from a general unallocated part of a university/department budget, sometimes from the budget of a research grant.

As Open Book Collective colleagues have argued again and again, in line with the aims and mission of the COPIM project, as well as arguments made by other project colleagues, a BPC-based Open Access publishing model is fundamentally unsustainable and unscalable. Any requirement for the higher education sector to pay BPCs on a broadscale basis would require an unparalleled national and global injection of funding. . . .

The Open Book Collective’s online presence " its "platform" serves many functions, including providing information about our aims, governance, model and values, as well resources about Open Access. However, a key part of the platform is the area where publishers and publishing "service providers," as we call them (the organisations that provide the crucial infrastructures for Open Access book publishing) make available ‘Offers’ that universities and other organisations can potentially subscribe to. . . .

In the Open Book Collective model, we give publisher/service provider members substantial — but not total — control over how their individual Offers are priced. Each initiative proposes a "tiered" costing Offer to us (tiered pricing involves varying subscription prices by university’s size and/or national context), which we assess to determine whether it is fair and reasonable. If so, and our Membership Committee agrees that the initiative meets our broader membership criteria, then it is eligible to become a member of the Open Book Collective, with its Offer potentially hosted on our platform.

https://bit.ly/45yZsXQ

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"Towards an Author-Centered Open Access Monograph Program: Understanding Open Access Cultures in Scholarly Publishing"


Author attitudes towards Open Access (OA) remains an important area of investigation in academic publishing. The successful implementation of new OA infrastructure and business models depend on their reception within scholarly communities. This paper proposes "Open Access Culture"—the set of beliefs, practices, and attitudes towards OA publishing shared by members of an academic field—as a framework to understand how OA innovations are and will be received by different scholarly communities. The investigation of OA culture helps identify the needs of individual academic fields (e.g., the importance of print publishing for a particular field), thus foregrounding author preferences in the publishing process. The University of Michigan Press (UMP) is drawing upon the OA Culture framework to aid the implementation of its OA monograph initiative. UMP has undertaken research (author survey as well as editor, author, and librarian interviews) to understand how the monograph initiative will integrate different fields. This paper presents results of this research demonstrating the application of the OA Culture framework to several fields, as well the Humanities, Arts, and Humanistic Social Sciences (HSS) more broadly. This is one way that University Presses may take an author-centered approach to OA publishing programs, one that foregrounds the needs of individual authors and considers their unique disciplinary context. Moreover, the paper offers a recent view of sentiments towards OA in the HSS and thus helps to contextualize the current OA landscape.

https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.3332

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"What is Your Threshold? The Economics of Open Access Scholarly Book Publishing, the ‘Business’ of Care, and the Case of punctum books"


In this article, we share how a small, independent, academic open access (OA) press, punctum books, has survived and can maybe thrive financially, but also in terms of human quality of life dividends, in the very precarious landscape of making and funding open books. Tracing the history of the press and our bumpy road to better financial sustainability, and the ways in which we have settled upon a business model that purposefully "scales small," we argue that the mission and the business model of any OA book publisher must be in better alignment than is currently the case in much of academic publishing and that bibliodiversity, along with an ethics of care—of ourselves, our authors, and the librarians who fund us—should be paramount in everything we do as a publisher. We also offer a brief survey of the current state of the field of library funded OA books initiatives in order to raise some questions about the weight and logics of these initiatives and, with more and more players entering this scene, about the viability more largely of consortial library funding for OA books in the United States.

https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.3627

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Athena Unbound: Why and How Scholarly Knowledge Should Be Free for All


In Athena Unbound, Peter Baldwin offers an up-to-date look at the ideals and history behind OA, and unpacks the controversies that arise when the dream of limitless information slams into entrenched interests in favor of the status quo. . . .

Baldwin addresses the arguments in terms of disseminating scientific research, the history of intellectual property and copyright, and the development of the university and research establishment. As he notes, the hard sciences have already created a funding model that increasingly provides open access, but at the cost of crowding out the humanities. Baldwin proposes a new system that would shift costs from consumers to producers and free scholarly knowledge from the paywalls and institutional barriers that keep it from much of the world.

https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/14887.001.0001

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"10 Trends I Observed Interviewing 10 Publishing Executives about the Future of Academic Books"


If ten years ago, publishers sold most of their books to libraries and book stores, today Amazon leads sales by a large margin. Some publishers do more than half of their total sales on Amazon, making them quite vulnerable and susceptible to the algorithmic tweaks of the commercial behemoth. To make things worse, the vast majority of publishers have no direct line of communication with Amazon, so there is no way to negotiate better terms and conditions or report issues. This has had far reaching implications including the type of content (more trade titles) that these publishers now prioritize (see more on this below).

https://bit.ly/3Wtfped

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"Books in a Bubble.: Assessing the OAPEN Library Collection "


Open access infrastructure for books is becoming more mature, and it is being used by an in-creasing number of people. The growing importance of open access infrastructure leads to more interest in sustainability, governance and impact assessment. For this paper, we will assess the OAPEN Library. In the spring of 2022, it passed the milestone of 20,000 titles. This was a good moment to evaluate the core asset of the OAPEN Library: its collection.

The OAPEN Library contains freely accessible books and chapters, all of which have undergone external peer review. In other words, it functions as an academic library and in our assessment we should treat it as such. However, it is an online library and the limitations of physical books do not play a part. Shelf space is not to be considered.

More important is the question of how well the collection meets the needs of its users. The OAPEN Library sees global usage; the collection reflects this by offering titles in over 50 languages. The collection is not focused on a specific subject area, but the choice of medium — books and chapters, not journals and articles — is more strongly associated with the humanities and social sciences. It does not track its users, but the supporters of the OAPEN Libraries are globally dis-tributed academic institutions, scientific and scholarly funders and publishers. An assessment of the OAPEN Library should therefore take into account the diversity of languages, subjects and stakeholders.

https://doi.org/10.36253/jlis.it-498

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"Sustainable Futures for OA Books: The Open Book Collective"


This article describes and explains the need for the work of the Open Book Collective (OBC). The OBC is a major output of the COPIM project (Community-Led Infrastructures for Open Access Monographs). The collective will bring together diverse small-to-medium open access (OA) publishers, open publishing service providers, libraries, and other research institutions to create a new, mutually supportive, and interdependent community space and platform designed to sustainthe future of OA book publishing. The OBC is founded upon equitable, community-led governance and helping publishers move beyond Book Processing Charges (BPCs). Central to the functioning of the Open Book Collective is an online platform that will make it far quicker and easier for libraries and other potential subscribers to compare, evaluate, and subscribe to different OA publishers and open service providers via membership packages. The OBC supports small-to-medium OA publishers by way of the COPIM (Community-Led Publication Infrastructures for Open Access Books) philosophy of "scaling small." This allows publishers and other members to operate sustainably and collaboratively whilst retaining their diverse and singular editorial missions, rather than operating from philosophies centered on economic growth, competition, and monopoly.

https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.3372

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"Open Access to Books — the Perspective of a Non-profit Infrastructure Provider"


This article describes the open access (OA) book platforms OAPEN Library and Directory of Open AccessBooks (DOAB), based on 1.the development and activities of OAPEN in the first ten years; 2. the underlying technical approach behind the platforms; 3. the current role of OAPEN and DOAB and future outlook.

OAPEN started out as a project funded by the European Commission, and become a legal non-profit Dutch entity in 2011. It hosts, disseminates and preserves open access books. OA book publishing has been explored in several pilot projects. Its current collection contains over 24,000 documents. DOAB launched in 2012, inspired and supported by DOAJ. It became a legal non-profit Dutch entity in 2019, owned by the OAPEN Foundationand OpenEdition. It’s current collection contains close to 60,000 titles.

The data model of both platforms is optimised for a multilingual collection and supports funding information. Ingesting books has been optimised to support a wide array of publishers and the dissemination of books takes into account search engines; libraries and aggregators and other organisations. The usage has grown in the last years, to 1 million downloads per month.

The future developments entail increased support of research funders with the establishment of a FunderForum and multi-year research into policy development. DOAB will invest more in bibliodiversity, by adding more emphasis on African and Asian countries. Also,DOAB will roll out its Peer Review Information Service for Monographs (PRISM).

OAPEN and DOAB will continue to work on developing reliable infrastructures, policy development and quality assurance around open access books.

https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.3303

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"The MIT Press Receives $10 Million Endowment Gift for Open Access to Knowledge"


The new fund will support the MIT Press’s ground-breaking efforts to publish open access books and journals in fields ranging from science and technology to the social sciences, arts, and humanities. It will also help the MIT Press continue to develop tools, models, and resources that make scholarship more accessible to researchers and other readers around the world. . . .

Arcadia is providing an outright endowment gift of $5 million, as well as a $5 million “challenge” gift to incentivize other funders by matching their support of MIT’s open publishing activities.

https://bit.ly/3B5SWKb

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"Spain Adopts National Open Access Strategy"


Spain has approved a four-year national strategy for open science, under which all outputs of publicly financed research will made available free upon publication.

Under the strategy open access will become the default mode for all research funded directly or indirectly, with public funds. . . .

A budget of €23.8 million in 2023 will be maintained annually until 2027.

https://bit.ly/414w2gY

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"What Can I Do with This? Indicators of Usage Rights in the User Interface "


With the continued push towards open access (OA) and the complicated nature of copyright law, users are often left wondering what they can do with the scholarly articles they find. Creative Commons (CC) licenses are the predominant mechanism for communicating usage rights; however, finding the CC license information — or being confident that there is not any — can be a challenge. Today we report on a project to investigate how publisher platforms represent CC licenses for OA and non-OA journal articles. We looked at how publishing platforms indicate usage rights for articles in results displays as well as in full-text formats.

https://bit.ly/3HwTZq1

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Good, Better, Best: Practices in Archiving & Preserving Open Access Monographs


Good, Better, Best: Practices in Archiving & Preserving Open Access Monographs brings together the project’s growing knowledge and understanding around this community of practice, as well as reports on the Work Package’s research and development over the course of the project.

Following an introduction chapter giving a brief background landscape summary alongside employed methodologies, Chapter 2, "A basic guidebook for the small and scholar-led press" considers good, better, and best practices around file formats, metadata, content packaging, existing routes to digital publication archives, archiving and preservation workflows, and challenges surrounding copyright, reuse, and licensing. Additional chapters detail the repository workflow experimentations, both manual and automated, as well as successful proof-of-concept archiving in two online repositories: one, and institutional repository, and the other, the Internet Archive. Along with a chapter (Chapter 6) that explores the current understanding around implications for archiving and preserving complex and experimental monographs, two further chapters (7 and 8) look at future work: the expansion and development of the Thoth Archiving Network and the new Open Book Futures project, beginning May 2023. Appendices include signposting to toolkits, guides, and resources, as well as a brief glossary that provides links to more comprehensive archiving and preservation glossaries already in existence. We hope this will be a useful resource for the small and scholar-led press community and beyond.

https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7876047

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"The Scholarly Fingerprinting Industry"


Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Springer Nature, Wiley, and SAGE: Many researchers know that the five giant firms publish most of the world’s scholarship. Fifty years of acquisitions and journal launches have yielded a stunningly profitable oligopoly, built up from academics’ unpaid writing-and-editing labor. Their business is a form of IP rentiership—collections of title-by-title prestige monopolies that, in the case of Nature or The Lancet, underwrite a stable of spinoff journals on the logic of the Hollywood franchise. Less well-known is that Elsevier and its peers are layering a second business on top of their legacy publishing operations, fueled by data extraction. They are packaging researcher behavior, gleaned from their digital platforms, into prediction products, which they sell back to universities and other clients. Their raw material is scholars’ citations, abstracts, downloads, and reading habits, repurposed into dashboard services that, for example, track researcher productivity. Elsevier and the other oligopolist firms are fast becoming, in other words, surveillance publishers. And they are using the windfall profits from their existing APC-and-subscription business to finance their moves into predictive analytics.

https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/yu34t

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"Searching for the Right Ebook Business Models"


Part of the problem is that ebook models have been tied to the traditional concept of the book for too long, which has failed to recognize the potential added value of both ebooks and textbooks. As Ashcroft put it: "We’ve always had a policy of pricing our ebooks for institutional use at the same price as our print books. So, a PDF licence to an institution for use by everybody with no limits to usage or downloads, simultaneous usage, has always cost the same as a print book. We asked ourselves whether that was actually the right approach and came to the conclusion that an electronic format made available in that way does actually deliver an additional value versus the print book, so for our own books we have decoupled the ebook prices from the print prices and ebook prices for institutions have increased as a result, just to reflect the additional value that they represent to an institution."

https://bit.ly/3oMzD5B

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"Z-Library Plans to Let Users Share Physical Books through ‘Z-Points’"


Z-Library appears to be shrugging off a criminal investigation as if nothing ever happened. The site continues to develop its shadow library and, following a successful fundraiser, now plans to expand its services to the physical book market. Z-Library envisions a book "sharing" market, where its millions of users can pick up paperbacks at dedicated "Z-Points" around the globe.

https://cutt.ly/i7bAHGU

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Essential Reading: Walt Crawford’s Books on Open Access

For over a decade, Walt Crawford been writing books about open access. With one exception published by ALA, they are all freely available as PDF files. What makes Crawford’s books stand apart is his in-depth, incisive investigation of key global open access trends. Some of the recent books were sponsored by SPARC. These books belong in every academic library’s cataloged collection.

Gold Open Access by Country 2016-2021: The Long Tail

This book looks at the long tail of gold OA—for 2021, the 13,714 DOAJ-listed journals that are not published by one of what I call the Big Eleven: eleven publishers or publishing groups, including two university presses and one society, that dominate fee-based OA. You could think of them as Corporate OA, except for the society and universities, and the fact that several traditional publishers such as De Gruyter are included in the long tail.

Chapter 6 of Gold Open Access 2016-2021: Articles in Journals (GOA7) discusses the Big Eleven and the Long Tail; the Big Eleven are named on page 45. The group publishes 17% of the serious journals, but 55% of the 2021 articles and 89% of potential fee (APC) revenues.

Gold Open Access by Country 2015-2020

Gold Open Access by Country 2014-2019

Gold Open Access Journals by Country 2012-2017

Gold Open Access 2016-2021: Articles In Journals (GOA7)

Gold OA continues to grow: by around 1,500 active journals, 170,000 articles, and nearly half a billion dollars in fees in 2021. This study attempts to answer questions about the state of serious gold OA publishing in 2021 (and how it’s changed over the past few years).

The overall picture in 2021:

  • 1,275,212 articles, up from 1,104,179 in 2020 (for the current set of journals), an increase of 15.5%. My estimate is that around 2,200 journals were added to DOAJ during 2021 and around 700 were deleted during the year.
  • 16,620 fully-analyzed journals, of which 15,643 published articles in 2021, for an average of 82 articles per journal (up from 75 in last year’s report).
  • The usual articles-vs.-journals split continues: 68% of active journals are no-fee, but 69% of articles appeared in fee journals The average cost per article was $1,374 in 2021, up around $170 from 2020.

The rest of this book provides more detail and ways of looking at gold OA. The book is patterned after previous editions.

While some discussions and tables involve the full 16,620 journals, most—where 2021 article counts are fundamental—address only 15,643, ignoring 977 journals with no 2021 articles when checked.

Gold Open Access 2015-2020: Articles in Journals (GOA6)

Gold Open Access 2014-2019: Articles in Journals (GOA5)

Gold Open Access 2013-2018: Articles in Journals (GOA4)

Gold Open Access Journals 2012-2017 (GOA3)

Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016 (GOAJ2)

Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015

Gray OA 2012-2016: Open Access Journals Beyond DOAJ

Open Access: What You Need to Know Now

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Governing Scholar-Led OA Book Publishers: Values, Practices, Barriers


This report develops and focuses on some of the issues we have previously explored within COPIM with regard to community governance, such as the challenges of governing a collective and the relationship of governance to common resources, to explore how these apply in practice to the publication of books by small-to-medium Open Access publishers, as well as what barriers they have faced in implementing their governance models. It presents and discusses the results of six interviews with the small and medium Open Access publishers which make up the ScholarLed consortium. It then offers some recommendations and insights into how other small and medium Open Access publishers might set up and/or improve their governance practices, including how the Open Book Collective might support them in doing so.

https://doi.org/10.21428/785a6451.e6fcb523

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