We present the work of Liverpool University Press and the Central European University Press who have, with assistance from the COPIM Project, launched an innovative revenue model this year to fund open access monographs. Building on existing library subscription models, their membership programmes give libraries access to highly-regarded backlist eBooks, with the membership fees then used to publish new frontlist monographs that will be OA for anyone in the world to read.
As the reality of Covid-19 dawned early in 2020 and campuses worldwide went into lockdown, publishers rushed to temporarily open their publications by removing paywalls. Usage of eBooks soared. It seems clear there is an opportunity to reassess scholarly monograph publishing. Given the current global library environment and budget pressures exacerbated by Covid, a consortial model of funding promises a cost-effective solution for OA that means no single institution bears a disproportionate burden. This model appeals to both those libraries that wish to pay for subscription-access content (i.e. traditional university acquisition models), and those libraries that are in a position to support OA initiatives. It brings many institutions together under one roof for an affordable route to open access books.
We call this transformational scheme Opening the Future and its aim is to make library funds go further: achieving the dual objectives of increasing library digital collections while also supporting open access. As a pilot with COPIM it is a small-scale trial for how small- to medium-sized traditional university presses might convert to a low-risk and sustainable OA model. COPIM is documenting these publisher case studies to create a free toolkit, codebase and roadmap for other presses considering going OA.