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 with sebastian.nordhoff@langsci-press.org and 
tom.mosterd@knowledgeunlatched.org (CC).
Best wishes

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)

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.

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Brussels workshop on Alternative Open Access Publishing Models

We attended the workshop on Alternative Open Access Publishing Models organised by the European Commision (Directorate General Communications Networks, Content and Technology and Directorate General for Research and Innovation). This blogpost summarises our impressions.

The workshop

When we signed up, we were expected a small workshop with a lot of discussion. We were surprised to see about 100 people in the audience and a packed program with lots of information transfer from the speakers to the audience, but little room for interaction or discussion. The speakers were very well selected and gave a good overview of various approaches to OA publishing in Europe. It was at this meeting that I realised how diverse and vibrant the OA scene is in Europe.

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What’s the cost of an open access book?

Proportional costs of a book

In order to establish a viable funding model for Open Access publications, one has to know the costs attached to creating an article or a book.

The sums quoted vary wildly, between 10 USD and 40,000 GBP for an article, and 1000 EUR and 25,000 EUR for a monograph.

In order to shed some light on the issue, we will share our data relating to the publication of monographs.

Calculating the costs: top-down

We are currently funded by the DFG with about 580k€ for a two year period. As a first approach, one could take the sum for one year, i.e. 290k€ and divide it by the number of publications, 9 to day. This leaves us with around 30k€ for a book. Continue reading