Future of Language Science Press

Next to publishing 35 books over the last 3 years, we have also explored ways to finance open access. We identified 5 revenue streams, but our evaluation showed that the most promising one is a “library partnership model”, similar to crowdfunding. Instead of charging readers or authors, we think that small contributions from a wide network of linguistics libraries worldwide are a better solution for long-term sustainability and this is also more in line with the spirit of the linguistics community.

Our target in terms of book publications is 30/year.

For this, we have to collect 115,000 EUR.

Ways to support

Together with Knowledge Unlatched, we have set up the following ways to contribute towards meeting this sum:

We will approach libraries over the next months and propose our financing model to them. Libraries are much more likely to contribute if researchers have talked to their library about the advantages of Language Science Press before, so you can help us immensely by sending just a very brief email to your librarian. (See sample below).

Some numbers

Some numbers might come in handy: with LangSci, a library contributing 1000 EUR can finance 30 high quality linguistics books a year for 33.33 EUR each. Compare this price tag to a random book from a traditional publisher all at about 100 EUR.

Plot 23Our costs for producing a fully open access book (CC-BY) are just below 4,000 EUR (115k€/30). [Update: since there have been some misunderstandings: this is the global sum we need per book. That cost is met by all participating institutions and individuals together] Compare this to the quotes of 10,000 EUR (de Gruyter) or 18,500 EUR (Brill). This is of course due to all the free support we receive from the community, but we are proud of this support we receive from you!

Plot 24While 1,000 EUR yearly contribution is a huge sum for one person, it is not that large in a  library context where subscription fees for one journal can be easily in the 5-digit range.

Make Open Access work!

We think 100 libraries worldwide and 150 individuals should be doable. If this is not the case, then linguistics is probably not ready for open access. So go talk to your library and make the case that researchers can reclaim publishing, make it free and open, and less expensive as well! And if you feel that you have the financial means for making a personal contribution towards making open access work, make an individual pledge.

While personal meetings or phone calls are the best way to get in touch with your  librarians, a simple email would also help. The more personal, the better. Below, we provide a sample email. Use this as a starter if you have a writer’s block. Click here to load this text into your email program.

Dear ___,
as you might know, linguistics is a very progressive discipline when it
comes to open access. The rebellion of the Lingua editorial board
against Elsevier, the resignation of the whole board and the subsequent
founding of Glossa have received wide coverage not only in specialist
media outlets.
Today I would like you to ask you to support open access not only for 
journals, but also for books.

You might have heard of Language Science Press. Language Science Press
publishes fully open access books under CC-BY. They are a community-based
worldwide enterprise with supporters from MIT, Harvard, Yale, Zurich, 
Berlin, Sydney, Hong Kong,etc. To name but a few, Noam Chomsky, Adele 
Goldberg and Steven Pinker support Language Science Press and their 
library partnership model set up by Knowledge Unlatched. I would be very
happy if ______ could contribute towards the success of open access by 
becoming a supporter of Language Science Press at the rate of 1000 EUR/year 
for ~30 books/year. I am happy to provide you with more information or
put you in touch.
Best wishes

Access statistics from OAPEN and OMP

OAPEN has recently sent us the access statistics for the last year. OAPEN is a repository for open access books. All our books are listed there, in addition to our OMP platform.

It is interesting to see in how far one or the other platform is used, and how the differences could be explained. The raw data are given below.

OMP pdf downloads 2016

The future of dialects 16137
Grammatical theory 7081
New directions in corpus-based translation studies 3798
Einführung in die grammatische Beschreibung des Deutschen 2981
The Alor-Pantar languages: History and typology 2546
Natural causes of language 2332
The empirical base of linguistics 2197
Roots of language 2066
Advances in the study of Siouan languages and linguistics 1795
Einführung in die grammatische Beschreibung des Deutschen² 1717
Linguistic variation, identity construction and cognition 1431
Thoughts on grammaticalization 1397
Adjective attribution 1291
The evolution of grounded spatial language 1216
A grammar of Yakkha 1192
Eyetracking and Applied Linguistics 1125
A grammar of Palula 1057
The Talking Heads experiment 941
Syntax und Valenz 933
The evolution of case grammar 889
Die Sprachwissenschaft 836
A grammar of Pite Saami 763
Language strategies for the domain of colour 729
How mobile robots can self-organise a vocabulary 712
A grammar of Mauwake 651
Prosodic detail in Neapolitan Italian 605
Grammaticalization in the North 568
A typology of marked-S languages 501

Continue reading

Achievements 2016

We started our annual retrospectives last year. This is the retrospective for 2016

Books and series

Up and until 2015-12-31, 225 works have been proposed to Language Science Press (+86). The curve is very regular and nearly linear.

Book proposals over time

Book proposals over time

The following figure gives a breakdown of the distribution of these works and their states of completion.

Series submissions.

Series submissions.

The most active series are Studies in Diversity Linguistics (52), Textbooks in Language Sciences (25) and Translation and Multilingual Natural Language Processing (11).

There are currently 19 series (+2). Last year, we accepted EuroSLA Studies and Phraseology and Multiword Expressions.

Continue reading

Open Review of “Tone in Yongning Na: Lexical tones and morphotonology”

Language Science Press109 provides books as Open Access, but we also strive to make the whole publication process more open. Our software is open source, the Latex-code for all our books is openly available, and our bibliographies are on Glottolog.

One aspect of this openness is Open Review. The idea is that instead of two blind reviewers, the whole community can comment on a new manuscript and point out merits and possible improvements. A discussion of the theoretical axes along which Open Review can be differentiated can be found here; a report of practical experiences by Stefan Müller is here. At the time Stefan wrote his report, the technical infrastructure needed for doing Open Review was not fully in place yet, but now we are happy to announce that we will start Open Review as we intend it to be. Our first book to enter this Open Review stage is “Tone in Yongning Na: Lexical tones and morphotonology“.

Continue reading

Community proofreading queue

As of now, there have been 212 expressions of interest to publish with Language Science Press. In the beginning, the time between one book publication and the next was rather long, but now we have a number of parallel projects which requires some scheduling.

An important part of our workflow is community proofreading. We send out chapters of to-be-published books to community members interested in the topic. These community members then proof the chapter and return the corrections. Their contributions are listed in our Hall of Fame.

The proofreading phase is currently 4 weeks. But our output will be more than 1 book/month in the very near future. This means that we will have several books in proofreading at the same time. The following is a list of upcoming projects and the projected order in which they will reach proofreading. The order is basically first-come first-serve, i.e. when a books is ready, we send it out for proofreading. We might deviate from that in order to ensure a mix of books. For instance, we currently have 4 Africanist books. We add some other books in between to balance the topics.

The current queue is given below. Time between one book and the next should be two weeks:

Continue reading

Graphics and images

Many of our books contains images and graphics. These serve a variety of purposes (maps, photographs, charts). Very often, the images provided by the authors during the initial submission cannot be used. This blog post will shed light on some of the common issues we encounter when dealing with images.

Continue reading

Cooperation between Language Science Press and Knowledge Unlatched

One of the founding ideas of Language Science Press was that the press should operate  without charging readers or authors (Platinum access). Of course, there are still costs associated with the operation of a press, which have to be financed in a sustainable way.  We are happy to announce our cooperation with Knowledge Unlatched. Together with Knowledge Unlatched, we will implement a library partnership model. A library partnership model is similar to crowdfunding: a number of interested parties (in our case libraries) join forces to finance the production of goods they would like to see available (in our case high quality open access linguistic books). When there are enough contributors, production starts. In case there were not enough supporters, nothing is produced, and no one pays. This model is used for instance by the Open Library of Humanities. OLH runs Open Access journals, among which we find Glossa and Laboratory Phonology. There are currently 207 institutions contributing towards the financing of this platform.

Knowledge UnlatchedKnowledge Unlatched operates on a similar to the model for books, focusing on the Humanities. In the rounds 1 (2014), 2 (2015), and 3 (2016), there were 28, 78, and 343 books funded, respectively, by a total of 380 institutions from 26 countries. This makes Knowledge Unlatched a natural partner for us: they have the expertise to set up the model, the network to make it work, and a track record which shows they know what they are doing.

In order for this model to work, it is necessary that we acquire 100 libraries or institutions which are willing to become members of the library partnership model. Please talk to your library about this project. We will prepare some information material over the course of the next months and make it available to our supporters. In spring 2017, libraries will be proposed membership. We count on our community to prove that linguistics is ready for real open access, without any direct charges for readers or authors. Please help us make this happen and make sure your home institution joins us.


Presentation given at the LangSci series editors meeting on 2016-10-07 (pdf, in German)

Print-on-demand service providers

Our main format of distribution is pdf, but we also offer printed copies via print-on-demand service providers. In this post, I want to shed a bit of light on the factors which influence our choices in this domain.


The following four criteria are essential:

  1. can accommodate our format of 170mm x 240 mm
  2. listed in the German registry Verzeichnis lieferbarer Bücher
  3. world wide distribution
  4. good quality books with regard to layout and printing

The following other criteria are nice to have

  1. choice between softcover and hardcover
  2. use of own ISBNs
  3. no setup fee.

Continue reading

Calculating the costs of a community-driven publisher

Publishing does not come for free. There are a number of obvious costs, such as ink, paper or computer storage, and a couple of not-so-obvious costs, such as the time needed to set up a book for print-on-demand or the creation of user manuals and screencasts.

These costs have to be counterbalanced by revenue. Traditionally, publishers recoup their costs via the margin of their book sales. In an open access paradigm with a smaller print run, this is less straightforward.

Spreadsheet for calculating press's costWe have created an interactive spreadsheet where you can assume the role of press editor and see how you can make the ends meet. You can download the spreadsheet or use the online version (you will have to copy the online version to be able to edit). In what follows, I will detail the different sources of revenues, roles, and expenditures. You can use the spreadsheet right away, but it might be worthwhile to read what the individual categories stand for.

Continue reading

Fatḥah in the margin

This post discusses an advanced typesetting problem dealing with the interplay of margin notes with German and Arabic LaTeX packages.

We have published a critical edition of Georg von der Gabelentz’s Die Sprachwissenschaft. This book comprises the text of the first edition from 1891 and the second edition from 1901. Differences between the editions are marked with different colours in the running text. Substitutions are marked in the margin. So far so good. The following image gives an example.

Margin notes and coloured text in the critical edition of Gabelentz's "Die Sprachwissenschaft"

Margin notes and coloured text in the critical edition of Gabelentz’s “Die Sprachwissenschaft”. Red text marks updates between first and second edition, blue text marks corrections by the editors of the present edition, here a wrong accent mark.

Continue reading