In 2017 we announced our plans for funding the operations of Language Science Press in the future. Rather than charging readers for reading or authors for publishing, we wanted to set up Language Science Press as a true community enterprise, where research institutions worldwide collaborate to set up an Open Access publication platform.
Many linguists worldwide contacted their librarians and asked them for support, and many of the libraries they asked were happy to fund our platform via Knowledge Unlatched. We are thus proud that we can announce today that we have reached our pledging target of 100 institutions worldwide which support us with 1000 EUR a year each, for the next three years!
This means that the operations for the next three years — and the next 90 books — are secured. However, we are at the lower bound of the intended corridor of 100,000-115,000 EUR. Technically, there was also an additional pledging program for individuals for raising another 15,000 EUR. We abandoned this, as we felt that the financial burden of book publication should not be borne by individuals, but rather by research institutions. As a consequence, we will keep the institutional pledging open until we reach 115 supporters. At 100 supporting institutions, we can publish books, but we cannot provide any extras such as nice maps or extensive help with conversion. When we reach 115, we will be able to provide more extensive support for authors or subfields which require it. So, if your library is still considering whether to join or not, now is the time! You can point to this impressive list of institutions worldwide which already fund Language Science Press. THANK YOU!
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).
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 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)
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.
We 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.
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.
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.
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
The slides of our talk at Open Acces Tage 2015 in Zürich are available here (in German).
Presentation of the project at the Open Access Tage in Cologne