Open Access eBooks on JSTOR, Courtesy of Knowledge Unlatched

by Charles Watkinson on December 20, 2016

University of Michigan Press is proud to be one of the first publishers to make open access books available in the new “Open Access eBooks on JSTOR” program. In this new program a publisher pays JSTOR a per-title fee to include their OA titles on the JSTOR platform. The fee covers JSTOR’s processing costs and compensates for the fact that client libraries will not be charged for these works.

Since we’ve heard some confusion among library colleagues, it’s important to emphasize that the “Open Access eBooks on JSTOR” program is purely a distribution deal. The only way a publisher can participate is if it has found some other way of covering the costs of producing the books it includes. For example, in the case of UMP, we’ve chosen to include all 13 titles that have been “unlatched” through the pledges made by the almost 300 libraries that participate in the Knowledge Unlatched initiative. Without their support, we would not have been able to participate in JSTOR’s program.

When we publish open access books (and in 2016 around 15% of the monographs UMP has published have been open access), we immediately make them free-of-charge to readers via the University of Michigan Press website. Knowledge Unlatched also makes sure that any books it has facilitated the unlatching of are deposited into the OAPEN and HathiTrust repositories. Since the books are made available with a Creative Commons license, other specialist OA aggregators such as Unglue.it and the Internet Archive generally also redeposit copies.

With such widespread availability why does UMP pay JSTOR to also include the OA books in its collections? One reason is “enhanced discoverability”: JSTOR results rank highly in search engines and also the platform is easy for library cataloguers to index. Another reason is “informative statistics”: JSTOR has pledged to provide rich usage data (within the limits of its privacy policy) to publishers who participate in the Open Access eBooks program which will help us to improve our OA books program. But the most important and distinctive reason may be “content enrichment”: JSTOR is one of the leaders in thinking through ways in which open access can improve the reading experience. The OA books we contributed to the program, for example, are among the test titles for the JSTOR Labs project “Reimagining the Monograph” and you can see them featured in the Topicgraph prototype in which you can “understand at a glance the topics covered in a book, then jump straight to pages about topics you’re researching.”

As programs such as Knowledge Unlatched grow and allow us to increase the number of open access books that we can publish, University of Michigan Press will continue to deposit our titles on platforms that provide “enhanced discoverability”, “informative statistics,” and “content enrichment.” We’re excited, for example, by Muse Open, recently announced by our friends at Project Muse. And, while we hope that libraries will also be willing to pay for services such as metadata enrichment, we’ll continue to be willing to pay fees to the platforms that deliver such extra value to our open content initiatives.

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