Open Access Publishing

It’s hard to say whether the trend in open access publishing has reached some sort of tipping point, or if I’m just paying more attention.  But recent weeks have brought several noteworthy examples.  Here’s just a sampling, with heavy weight towards those I’ve heard about this week…

Today the Open Humanities Press announced it was releasing a books from two of its series, in collaboration with MPublishing at the University of Michigan Library.  Upon further investigation, OHP is an imprint of MPublishing.  The press release is a pdf, but here’s an excerpt:

(Ann Arbor, MI-December 15, 2011) — Open Humanities Press (OHP) and MPublishing are pleased to announce the publication of six open access books on critical theory, continental philosophy and cultural studies. Each title will be freely available as full-text HTML, as well as in paperback editions, and are being released on a rolling publication schedule beginning 15 December. In a unique collaboration, the books are being jointly released by OHP, an international publishing collective run by scholars, and MPublishing, the library-based publishing enterprise at the University of Michigan.

[. . . .]

The peer-reviewed books are part of OHP’s Critical Climate Change series (edited by Tom Cohen and Claire Colebrook) and the New Metaphysics series (edited by Graham Harman and Bruno Latour). MPublishing created the structured XML for electronic and print on demand publication, as well as the metadata and cataloging information, and archived the books in the University of Michigan Library for long-term preservation.

The first two books (by Bryant and Nechvatal) are available now so you can go see how the model works.  Note, however, that while MPublishing page hosts the XML web-based version, there is no link to download a pdf there; you can find that on the OHP page (linked above).  Both include links to the Amazon page where you can purchase a paperback.

A few weeks ago, I also heard of this series, co-sponsored by the OHP, called “Living Books About Life” (“with life understood both philosophically and biologically”) created a series of open access resources that can be used in both humanities and sciences.  Not content to simply release this fantastic resource, they also contend they will be updating them as needed – hence “Living books.”

All the books in the series are themselves ‘living’, in the sense that they are open to ongoing collaborative processes of writing, editing, updating, remixing and commenting by readers. As well as repackaging open access science research — along with interactive maps, visualisations, podcasts and audio-visual material — into a series of books, Living Books About Life is thus engaged in rethinking ‘the book’ itself as a living, collaborative endeavour in the age of open science, open education, open data and e-book readers such as Kindle and the iPad.


These join a variety of other emergent platforms and institutional supports for open access.  On the former, cf. the Oapen platform – which hosts this book by Jeremy Gilbert, who forwarded it proudly to a listserve.  As for the latter, my colleague Rob Gehl, who tweets and blogs at recently took advantage of a program at the Marriott Library of the University of Utah.  As at many institutions, they have an Open Access Publishing Fund which paid Dr. Gehl’s author fee to Duke UP in order to make his forthcoming Social Text article open access.  Not sure where it will ultimately be housed, but for now, he’s got a pre-press version of the article (which is worth reading) on his website.

There is definitely a lot of work being made available in this manner, making curation and discoverability key issues going forward.  That and expanding the amount of hours in the day so I have enough time to read all of them.

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