June 28, 2016
Green open access to academic books seems to be a marginal phenomenon. Among respondents of the Key Challenges of Research Communication De Gruyter Open Survey only 17 authors archived an open access copy of a book that was originally published in toll access, which is 5% of all authors of recent academic books in our sample and 6.3% of toll access book authors. (Respectively 28,6% and 58.1% of our respondents did it with academic papers).
Together, our respondents declared to archive 22 books, which is 2.4% of books published in the last 3 years by authors in our sample and 2.9% of all books published originally in a conventional way.
We may discuss whether green or gold open access is better in the case of papers, but it seems to me that in the case of books, only gold exists at the moment. This is because green OA to books is overlooked by both activists and by academic institutions. Also, publishers seem to be less eager to allow self-archiving than in the case of papers.
As a result, big publishers frequently do not have any policies concerning the open access archiving of books that they publish.
Also, green open access policies do not change much here. There are 296 OA policies around the world that require the making of academic output open through the green route, but only 86 of them mention books and book chapters. Further, 14 policies do not specify the type of content that undergo a policy at all. Therefore two thirds of strong open access policies do not concern books.
This is reflected in the answers that we have received, when we asked about reasons for not making books open through the green route.
249 toll access book authors did not place any of their recent books in the OA repository and 235 explained why. Among them 52.7% said that they were not allowed by publishers to copy their works. A further 16.5% did not know about such a possibility and 9.7% claimed that lack of time was a major reason. Only 7.6% stated that they did not want to lose part of their royalties from sales and 5.9% that open access is not important to them.
Books remain an important form of research communication and teaching. However, opening academic books to a general audience is still a challenge without an easy solution. Gold open access is more developed here, albeit a business model that might support its expansion in book publishing, is still seen as experimental. In my next post, I will analyse our results concerning the current state of the author-pays model in book publishing.
Stay tuned. And feel free to verify my findings. Data behind our survey are open.