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Academic Self-Publishing Makes Market Inroads with Open Access Offerings and Innovative Business Models

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Salzburg Global Seminar, Salzburg, Austria, September 28, 2014 | © Courtesy of Salzburg Global Seminar.

Lulu, a book self-publishing platform, has recently launched Glasstree Academic Publishing, a division targeting the academic market, in a bid to disrupt existing scholarly publishing models.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


In its primary business model, Lulu has been able to minimize its author-facing fees, such as publication charges, because it receives revenue percentages off e-book and print-on-demand sales, which has made this publishing house cost-effective. Transferring this approach to scholarly publishing has also demanded from this publishing house to translate efficiency gains from digitization of the publication and review processes into higher shares of the book sales that their authors receive, while providing a wide range of editorial, licensing and publicity options, such as publishing in Gold Open Access via Creative Commons licenses.

At the same time, in Canada university presses’ representatives point out that academics publishing with Glasstree Academic Publishing may underestimate the total costs that they are likely to have to assume within this model, such as for editorial services. By contrast, scholars from institutions based in developing countries, such as India, have been found to be enthusiastic about this expansion of self-publishing into the academic sector. Since in this model peer review, translation, editing and marketing are offered as fee-based, usually bundled services, ranging in their price from 2,000 USD to 5,250 USD depending on the scope of services ordered, in addition to its basic publication options that do not necessarily include hosting offered as a separate service, it can be said that Glasstree signifies the possibly disruptive arrival of self-publishing into the scholarly publishing market.

This cost-effective publishing approach is especially portentous for Open Access publishing, since this publishing house also acts as a fee-based repository for its ebooks. Especially large-scale academic publishers are likely to be affected by the growing price competition in the publishing market, as innovative outfits that radically cut publication processing times, increase author receipts shares from book sales, and reduce publication fees, which have been steadily rising in step with university textbook and academic publication prices in recent decades, such as a 1,000% increase in college textbook costs since 1974 in the United States. Similar developments are likely to take place in the journal publishing sector, as self-publishing platforms can be expected to offer cost-effective service packages at the article level.

In this respect, the traditional and Open Access publication market sectors are slated to be highly dynamic in the coming years, as new market entrants willing to accept lower than usual profit margins may find in universities and libraries their target customers as generators and distributors of scientific knowledge that are likely to be interested in outsourcing publishing services to external service providers, such as for Open Access repositories.

Thus, as self-publishing arrives to the academic market, Open Access options may gain in attractiveness.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Salzburg Global Seminar, Salzburg, Austria, September 28, 2014 | © Courtesy of Salzburg Global Seminar.

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