Open Access book program, Knowledge Unlatched, expands to include Michigan branded collection

by Charles Watkinson on October 22, 2015

In 2014, University of Michigan Press (UMP) was a proud supporter of the pilot round of Knowledge Unlatched, contributing three books to a total collection of 28 titles offered to libraries worldwide. Starting in October 2015 we are pleased to be expanding our participation in the larger second round, as one of only two publishers offering a branded package of 10 titles (Duke University Press is the other one).

“At KU we’re delighted to offer UMP’s excellent books for unlatching. As readers downloading the pilot collection in nearly 170 countries demonstrated, there is a hunger around the world for quality scholarly works,” noted Dr. Frances Pinter, Founder of Knowledge Unlatched.

Under the KU program, libraries pledge an amount that is significantly less than the sum they would have paid normally for a collection of vetted titles. When the sum of the pledges exceeds the costs of producing the books in the collection (as estimated by the participating publishers), the collection is made available open access online. The books enter not only the pledging libraries’ collections but also find new global audiences. The program is distinctive in that publishers and libraries work together to make monographs open access while still preserving their respective roles. Titles included in the program continue to be produced and marketed in traditional print forms, but also (if “unlatched”) reach new audiences through free editions presented online with Creative Commons licenses.

“The authors of the three books in the pilot collection have been very pleased by the broader impact KU-enabled open access availability has achieved for them,” said Charles Watkinson, UMP Director. “We have seen over 7,500 significant use events for the three titles through statistics delivered by trusted platform partners while still producing and marketing handsome print editions.”

The new Michigan collection includes some of the Press’s finest forthcoming books in core subject areas such as international politics, media and communications, German history, and literature. If at least 300 libraries pledge their commitment by end of January 2016, these titles will be among 78 new humanities and social sciences books that will be made free for anyone in the world to read on an Open Access basis. Twenty five admired scholarly publishers are also participating, including fellow university presses such as Amsterdam, Brandeis, Cambridge, Colorado, Duke, Edinburgh, Fordham, Liverpool, Manchester, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Temple, Toronto, and Yale.

The collection is made up of eight packages; providing participating libraries the choice of supporting all eight or selecting at least six packages. Knowledge Unlatched is inviting libraries to pledge a capped maximum of US$3,891 to “unlatch” the whole collection. This is an average of just under US$50 for each book. Publishers have agreed to recognize additional format purchases by participating libraries with a deduction made on the KU unlatching fee. Pledging will remain open until 31 January 2016.

Libraries can view the collection and pledge their interest at: http://collections.knowledgeunlatched.org/

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