I’ve been focusing on a book section for a publication edited by No Shelf Required’s Sue Polanka. My chapter covers “Open Access E-Books”. Fourteen days Over another, I’ll be publishing drafts for the chapter on your blog. Many readers know things that I don’t about this area, and I would be grateful for their feedback and corrections.
Today, I’ll post the intro, following posts shall include areas on Types of Open up Gain access to E-Books, Business Models for Open Access E-Books, and Open Access E-Books in Libraries. Note that as the blog always uses “ebook” as one word, the written book will use the hyphenated form, “e-book”. As e-books emerge into the public consciousness, “Open Access”, an idea familiar to scholarly web publishers and educational libraries already, will play a growing role for a variety of web publishers and libraries. This chapter discusses what Open Access means in the context of e-books, how Open Access e-books can be supported, and the roles that Open Access e-books shall play in libraries and inside our society.
Authors write and publish because they want to be read. Many writers want to make a living from their writing also, but also for some, income from publishing is no important factor. Some authors, academics particularly, publish because of the status, prestige, and professional advancement that accrue to writers of important or groundbreaking works of scholarship or grant. Academic publishers have historically taken the benefits of these motivations to make publications and monographs consisting mainly of works that they pay minimal royalties, or more commonly, no royalties whatsoever.
In return, authors’ works receive professional review, editing and enhancing, and formatting. Works that are accepted get positioning in widely circulated journals and monograph catalogs. In the late 1970’s and 1980’s academic libraries became acutely aware an expansion of research activity had resulted in the growth of both amounts of journals and the numbers of articles published in the journals. The mixture of increased subscription prices and the number of journals had a need to support research led to a so-called “serials crisis”.
Libraries were forced to cancel subscriptions. The reduction in circulation forced publishers to raise membership prices further to pay the bills, and the causing cycle of price and cancellations raises led to a fear that the whole system would collapse. If few libraries could afford subscriptions, fewer scholars would be able to read the articles, diminishing the attractiveness of publishing.
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The introduction of web-based publications in the 90’s led many to believe that the solution to the serials crisis will be a shift of the scholarly publishing industry to so-called “Open Access” business models. Open Access magazines are the ones that can be read free to the reader or the reader’s institution.
The traditional model of publishing backed by subscription fees was thus styled as “Toll-Access” posting. It was hoped that the mixed cost reductions from digital distribution and automation would stop the cycle of rising expenditures. The most successful execution of Open Access has been ArXiv Perhaps, a data source of digital preprints and reprints (“e-prints”) originally focusing on the particle physics community.
Originally begun by Paul Ginsparg, a physicist at Los Alamos National Labs, ArXiv is situated at Cornell University and hosts more than 670 now,000 technological articles in e-print form. Authors deposit articles they’ve written in to the repository, and other scholars are free to search, browse, and download articles without needing any sort of subscription. One reason for the success of Open Access archives has been that they have developed in parallel coexistence with the original academic journals, which have mostly shifted onto the web.
In the so-called “Green” model for Open Access, many journals allow variations of accepted articles to be made available via repositories. Authors can thus send their articles to high-prestige subscription-supported publications without fretting about colleagues’ access, because scholars that require learning their works can gain access to versions from free resources always. Meanwhile, the shift of traditional journals onto the web has allowed the rise of secondary distribution channels.