Director, University of Michigan Press
University of Michigan
Publishing Services Librarian
University of Minnesota
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
American Council of Learned Societies
Vice President, Institutional Participation and Strategic Partnerships
The quest for a sustainable model to publish open access academic books continues, especially for literature in the humanities and qualitative social sciences. While there is a proliferation of initiatives, they tend to be publisher-specific or small-scale. Unlike research outputs in science, technology, engineering, and math subjects, most humanities scholarship remains relatively inaccessible in paywalled venues. This briefing solicits input on a new program developed by university press directors, librarians, and scholars and implemented by JSTOR. The Path to Open model makes frontlist books available to supporting libraries, exclusively through the widely-used JSTOR program, on an unlimited, multi-user, digital rights management-free basis. After three years of availability only to supporting institutions, the books become open access under Creative Commons licenses. Publishers receive a guaranteed $5,000 per accepted title from JSTOR, and the opportunity to cover additional costs through print sales and e-book sales to individuals. Libraries receive quality titles at an affordable price on a well-used platform. The program is kept aligned with the interests of academic authors and readers through the governance role played by the American Council of Learned Societies, a core program partner. This presentation will posit that Path to Open provides a needed “third way” between immediate open access and permanently restricted access. If the pilot is successful, the model will allow hundreds of books to be made open access every year in a sustainable way that balances the interests of university presses and libraries. Opportunities for smaller university presses and libraries to participate in open access by leveraging existing relationships and established workflows are particularly intriguing. At a system level, Path to Open also ensures that the funds for making books open access come not only from libraries (further burdening stretched acquisitions budgets) but also from sales of print and e-book editions.