The business model of Open Press TiU. Last updated April 2021.
“We make a loss, but it is a calculated loss. We profit because we as a library do not have to buy books that are not open access.” (D. Rutten, personal communication 18.02.2021)
Open Press TiU is a young publishing initiative, established in 2020, which looks into ways of publishing academic books open access. It is based on a collaboration between the Tilburg University library and Wolf Legal Publishers. The press publishes both books and journals in open access, in all academic disciplines.
Number/type of OA books published per year: In the first year of its existence Open Press TiU published five books. They expect to publish up to ten books per year. The press publishes scholarly monographs and textbooks in all disciplines. Proposals for theses, critical editions and other academic publications are also welcome.
Fully OA? The press publishes open access only.
Language of publications: most books are published in English, but there are also titles in Dutch
Legal status: The university press was formed as a liaison between the UiT library and an external publisher.
Personnel: One employee acting as the managing editor of the press, working on it part-time, combining these responsibilities with other projects at the university. Voluntary editors engaged on a project basis.
Licences used: CC BY 4.0, exceptions allowed for more restrictive CC licenses
Formats offered: PDF and Print on Demand
Hosting platform: Books are hosted on the TiU’s platform.
The Open Press TiU was established as part of the Open Science Action Plan of Tilburg University. The Plan’sambition is to publish 100% of its books open access. The Open Press TiU set-up was based on an existing relationship with the Wolf Publishers that the TiU had cultivated over the previous years. The press was established as an experiment and does not yet have a strictly defined business model or a governance structure.
The press is in the process of establishing its governance structure. Currently it has formed an Advisory Board composed of scholars representing different departments of the TiU. The Advisory Board meets several times a year and revises the press’s operations.
The Managing Editor of the press assumes responsibility for the content quality and selection of titles to be published, while the representative of the partnering publishing house is responsible for production-related tasks.
So far, acquisitions have been done through the Managing Editor’s and the institution’s networks. Submitted proposals, depending on which type of books they represent, are subject to different kinds of peer-reviewing mechanisms.
Copyediting and proofreading are done in-house by the Managing Editor himself or by a volunteer editor. In exceptional cases texts can undergo an additional round of language editing, also performed voluntarily. Production is done by the partnering publishing house. The partner is responsible for typesetting, cover design, etc. It is also in charge of handling print editions.
The issue of the distribution of digital copies is currently not on the list of top priorities for the press. Their books are not yet listed in DOAB but will be in OAPEN shortly. The press wishes to investigate this area more in the future. Automatic distribution also happens via the Pure system and the research portal harvested by Google Scholar / NARCIS. PDFs of books are available from the Open Press TiU website and on several personal Pure profiles of the authors.
There are currently no professional marketing operations in place. Book releases are shared via social media (the press’s Twitter and LinkedIn accounts) and information about them is distributed in an internal newsletter. The press points towards marketing as one of the areas that they want to develop in the near future.
All books are currently stored in the Tilburg University Library internal system.
Publishing costs are covered by a combination of a grant specifically assigned to the Open Press TiU library budget and publishing grants that researchers have. Authors are not charged Book Processing Charges, unless they are not affiliated with the TiU. For “outsiders” the press charges “affordable BPCs” that cover production costs only (Open Press | Openpresstiu, n.d.). BPCs amount to 3,000 EUR per book on average and 1.450 EUR for a PhD thesis. The press does not make a profit.
Total annual revenue associated with OA books for 2020 was around 15,000 EUR. The largest part of the revenue stream came from the library budget allocated to the press’s operations. Less significant revenue streams include individual research publishing grants and print sales. Revenue from print sales (so far hypothetical) are equally shared between the partner publisher and the editors/ authors.
One of the largest cost components is staff, followed by expenses associated with typesetting, design, artwork and image copyrights.
As the press is in its initial phase, it is hard to have a solid view of its sustainability in the long run. As long as no major changes occur in the library, and with the university’s aim to achieve 100% open access publishing, the press should not experience a lack of internal funding.
CHALLENGES OF THE MODEL
One of the main challenges associated with the currently pursued model is its total dependence on the work of its managing editor. Scarcity of human resources engaged in the operation makes it hard to develop and polish the services offered, which is especially visible when it comes to distribution and marketing. These are the two areas suffering the most in the current set-up.