The business model of Amherst College Press. Last updated February 2022.
Context. Why and how was the press founded? Why certain books/lists/etc.?
The College published a few traditional texts under the ACP names decades ago, but we published our first OA books under this new model with a proper Press (including staff) in 2015.
The press publishes titles in Art History and Visual Studies, Latin American Studies, Literary Studies, Music, and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies with a deep interest in interdisciplinary scholarship.
We developed our lists to reflect the strengths and holdings (art, archives, etc.) of the campus. We also decided to focus on subfields of disciplines that would be best served by multimodal, OA publishing. For example, our Electronic Communities of Making series promotes thoughtful reflection on the communities and practices driving electronic creativity by publishing works that reach across electronic literature, game studies, and internet research to explore the intersection of theory, practice, and pedagogy.
Founders: Bryn Geffert former director of Amherst College Library and then he was joined by Mark Edington who was the founding director of the Press.
Structure (including staffing and governance structure) and output (incl. no. of books per year):
We have two FTEs and rely on business and HR support from the library. We work with one freelance acquisitions editor at large and a marketing and promotions expert. All of our backend production work is done at the University of Michigan Publishing.
We have an advisory board composed of members of the OA university press world and an editorial board populated by faculty and staff of Amherst College.
ACP also has a year-long internship program that gives Amherst undergrads pre-professional training and an introduction to scholarly publishing. More information, including resources developed by our interns, can be found on the Community Page on our website: https://acpress.amherst.edu/community/
Quality and recognition
ACP is committed to the highest standards of peer review in evaluating the work it considers for publication and to communicating the nature of review to readers in a transparent fashion. As a process of independent and informed evaluation of both argument and originality of scholarly work, peer review is the principal means by which ACP assures the quality and merit of the work it publishes.
We employ a freelance marketing coordinator who places print ads, organizes conference exhibits, creates digital and print promotional content, and runs our Twitter account. Our interns run our Instagram account.
Usage figures (this is just Fulcrum usage and does not include JSTOR, etc.)
Awards and recognition: NYRB and other reviews
Community work and collaborations
ACP partnered with the MIT Press to convene work on a Peer Review Transparency initiative comprised of scholarly publishers, academic librarians, technology innovators, and thought leaders in scholarly communication, with support from the Open Society Foundations, to create agreed definitions of how peer review is conducted, and to disclose clearly and efficiently to readers the kind of review a published work has undergone.
ACP signed an MOU with The Vera List Center at The New School to produce a yearly co-published volume.
ACP provided Lever Press with acquisitions and administrative staff for six years. As of April 1, 2022, the University of Michigan Publishing with fully house and support Lever Press.
ACP’s director will become a lecturer on peer review for the The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) training program.
ACP partners with institutions across Amherst College campus on programming and events: we hold twice yearly salons in the Center for Humanistic Inquiry's salon series, for example, and have worked with the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, the Mead Art Museum, and the Emily Dickinson Museum as well as the college's Alumni and Parents office.
Brief description of OA model and why it was chosen
Fully college and library funded platinum open access
Income (including sales -- give pricing for any paid-for editions -- BPCs and any waivers available, library membership programmes, grant money, institutional endowments, etc)
Sales: we have a proportionally small amount of revenue from sales
Institutional support: covers all overhead and direct costs
Costs (including average costs per title)
Staff - volunteers? Paid staff? Full time?
We have two FTEs, two freelancers, two paid interns
Overheads: subvented by the sponsor institution
Production: For completed books, our direct production costs are averaging $6204.71
Marketing: we have 5k budgeted for direct marketing costs beyond the cost for casual labor from the freelancer
Distribution: 10k a year for Fulcrum
Please give details of two ‘case study’ titles.* These should be two very different titles (the intention is to give some indication of the range of possible costs, rather than only offering an average ‘costs per title’ which makes variation invisible).
Most of our titles have averaged 5-6k for production costs. A complete outlier was a heavily designed title, Writing in Time: Emily Dickinson’s Master Hours, and just for the design and typesetting we paid 11k. We made a highly bespoke print edition and the print run for that also cost us 10k.
Has your business model changed significantly at any point? If so, why and how?
It became clear that the Press needed more staffing than the original founders had planned for during the genesis of the Press. It also became clear that it made sense to outsource the production work and the project management of that process.
We are gaining more recognition on campus and beyond. Our funding is stable and our pipeline is growing. We have begun to produce a catalog each year and our output is becoming more consistent while still upholding rigorous standards of peer review.
Case study titles: If you are unable to give individual title costs that's fine, but if you can explain why, that would be helpful. If you are able to give costs, or at least rough costs, it would be ideal to be able to give costs for a 'standard' monograph (few/no images, straightforward editorial process, standard workflow etc) and an outlier in which more work was required, for whatever reason. Explain ow the differences are funded -- add the context here. Can you say what percentage of the books would be in the 'outlier' category and why? It might be particularly useful if the 'outlier' was for a digitally enhanced/intensive book, to demonstrate potential costs here.
In general, context is helpful! So in your answers please say why as well as what, if you can.