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University of York Library
Library Subject Guides

Open Access Publishing: a Practical Guide

Types of Open Access for Books

Publishing models for open access books

A range of business models are used to support the production of open access books. In some cases the author is asked to pay a publication fee, which may be covered by their funder or institution. In other instances, a publisher may raise money through crowd-sourcing from supporting institutions or they may continue to sell printed copies of open access books as an established revenue stream.

Most publication models will make a book open access immediately on publication but be aware that in some instances a book may initially be published in a non-open access format and only become openly available after a certain period has elapsed or a certain sales or funding target achieved.

Subsidised Open Access

In a nutshell: Publisher offers discounted open access fees to affiliated researchers.

Charge to Author?: Usually (often discounted)

Immediate open access on publication?: Usually

Example publishers/service providers:

i) New University Presses: Lever Press, Scottish Universities Press, UCL Press, University of Huddersfield Press, University of London Press, University of Westminster Press, White Rose University Press

ii) Membership Model: Open Book Collective, University of California Press (Luminos), African Minds

iii) Freemium: OECD, OpenEdition, Open Humanities Press

Some publishers subsidise their open access publication charges through alternative funding models. Some may waive their open access charge altogether. 

Many New University Presses (such as White Rose University Press) may waive or discount fees for academics based at their institution. They may receive funding from their host university or recoup costs by continuing to sell print copies of a monograph alongside the open access version.

Alongside these presses, some independent publishers operate on a membership model, where Libraries and other institutions pay an annual membership fee that underwrites some of the costs of producing the open access book. Authors at institutions which pay a membership fee may receive discounted publishing fees from the publisher.  

There are other independent publisher who produce open access books through a "Freemium" model, and often will not charge authors a processing fee. Similarly to many New University Presses, these publishers often raise revenue by selling alternative versions of a title, either alternative e-formats or print copies. 


Publication fee/Processing Charge (BPC)

In a nutshell: The most common open access route. Publishing supported by processing fees charged to authors. 

Charge to Author?: Yes

Immediate open access on publication?: Usually

Example publishers/service providers: Bloomsbury, Brill, Cambridge University Press, De Gruyter, Elsevier, Manchester University Press, MDPI, Oxford University Press, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, University of California Press (Luminos)

Many publishers require payment of a Book Processing Charge (BPC) to produce a book in an open access format. This charge is intended to cover production costs, as well as, in some cases, recouping potential sales costs that will be lost through the free dissemination of the work. Not all BPC models are for-profit - some operate on a cost-covering basis.

The BPC model is currently the most established model used to fund open access book production and is favoured by many of the larger academic publishers. 

Collectively-Supported Open Access

In a nutshell: Open access schemes that don't charge the authors a publishing fee and are funded entirely by alternate means. 

Charge to author?: No

Immediate open access on publication?: Usually

Example publishers/service providers: 

Open Book Collective, Open Book Publishers, Punctum Books, Knowledge Unlatched, Jisc's Open Access Community Framework, KOALA, LYRASIS' Open Access Community Investment Program, Bloomsbury Open Collections, MIT Press (Direct to Open), ARC Humanities Press.

In this model, a version of the book is made openly available but there is no charge to the individual author. Funding for these models is 100% crowd-sourced and they are sometimes referred to as Diamond open access as they do not charge any fee to authors or readers. 

Similar to Library membership models, institutions make a contribution towards the initiative in question. This may be on an annual basis, or a one-off donation. Schemes may make a certain number of monographs available based on the level of donations received, and/or release their entire collection openly when they reach a funding milestone.