The business model of Stockholm University Press. Last updated April 2021.
“We are coaching the authors towards learning more about what open publishing is.” (S. Wennström, personal communication, 23.02.2021)
Stockholm University Press (SUP), established in 2013, is a fully open access academic publisher publishing peer-reviewed books and journals. Editorial decisions are made by researchers, and books are published within disciplines taught at Stockholm University. The Press is run as a part of the Stockholm University Library.
Number/ type of OA books published per year: The number of books published per year varies depending on the demand, but the average so far has been five. The press publishes monographs and edited volumes alike, with a slight prevalence of the latter (estimated at 60% edited volumes, 40% monographs). In principle, books are organized into thematic series. In rare cases the press also publishes individual titles, not associated with any of the series.
Fully OA? The press is fully OA.
Language of publications: English.
Legal status: A university press, part of Stockholm University and managed by the Stockholm University Library
Personnel: One FTE working for the press only; one person working 75% for the press; one working 50% for the press; and one person working 20% for the press.
Licences used: Creative Commons licences required, CC BY recommended.
Formats offered: PDF, EPUB, MOBI, full text readable online, Print on Demand
Hosting platform: Books are hosted on the web platform provided by Ubiquity Press.
Following the decision of the Vice-chancellor in 2012, the press was established in 2013 to be a fully open access academic publishing house of Stockholm University. The overarching principle of SUP was that all content should undergo rigorous peer-review procedures. First, OA journals under the SUP brand appeared in 2014, and a year later the press started publishing OA books.
The Library Director is the head of Stockholm University Press and also acts as Vice-chair of the Publishing Committee.
The Publishing Committee, consisting of one chair and four representatives from the faculties of the University, is responsible for overseeing the review procedures and making final publication decisions for books and journals. Members of the Committee are nominated by the faculty members and selected by the President of the University.
Each book series has its own Editorial Advisory Board, consisting of experts in a given area. The forming of editorial structures is based on the demand from researchers. They are responsible for the peer-review process and for ensuring the academic quality of the books submitted to their respective series. Members of the Editorial Advisory Board decide on which reviewers to invite, which proposals to accept and recommend proposals to be taken under consideration.
The operational part of the press is handled within the Library, with managing editors for books and journals advising on the general direction and strategy of the press in close collaboration with the Publishing Committee and the Editorial Boards.
SUP outsources a large part of the production process for books and journals. SUP partners with Ubiquity Press. The partner is responsible for the web presence of the press, and also provides the manuscript management system for books and journals, handles agreements with typesetters and language editors and is responsible for the provider who offers distribution of print-on-demand books.
SUP relies on authors submitting proposals for consideration, rather than active acquisition procedures for single book titles. Members of Editorial Boards promote their respective series on conferences and among their peers. SUP welcomes proposals from researchers from all over the world, so they do not have to be affiliated with the Stockholm University. Each proposal is screened by the Managing Editor to ensure a correct submission. The proposal is then sent to the Editorial Board for evaluation, which can sometimes lead to an external peer-review process if the author is too familiar with the members of the Editorial Board. The Editorial Board writes a recommendation to the Publishing Committee if the book should be accepted or rejected. If the first screening process is successful, the SUP signs a contract with the author. Once the author submits their full manuscript, it is sent to the Editorial Board who selects external reviewers. The reviewer comments are scrutinized by the Editorial Board who then writes a recommendation to the Publishing Committee about the final decision. Most book manuscripts are revised at least once, before the final version is accepted for publication.
The author and the Managing Editor of the press prepares the manuscript for production into a digital book with print-on-demand service for those readers who prefer that format. The Press service provider (Lightning Source) then prepares all files and metadata before publication online.
Distribution of electronic copies is done via the Press website and managed by Ubiquity Press. All SUP books are included in DOAB and OAPEN. The distribution of metadata and full text files into other relevant databases varies depending on discipline. The possibility to purchase print-on-demand copies is offered via a number of online bookstores and the process is handled by Lightning Source.
Marketing is done through social media: each book launch is announced on the SUP’s blog and its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Book launches are also announced in the university newsletter. If the book’s author is affiliated with any of SU’s departments, relevant Communications Officer are informed, so that the existing university structure helps in spreading the word. Additionally, authors are advised by SUP in terms of self-marketing for their books, the use of relevant mailing lists, etc.
Preservation is handled by Ubiquity Press.
In addition to that, SUP fulfills the national requirements and sends print copies of their books to the National Library of Sweden and three Swedish universities who are in charge of legal deposit.
SUP is a nonprofit university press. The university contributes with the running costs of the press and employs all internal staff. The publishing costs of the OA books are negotiated to a minimum and the charges are paid by authors, their institutions or research grants. The BPCs are based on actual publishing expenses only and are kept to the lowest possible via a framework agreement with the service provider. The SUP advises authors on where to seek funding that could cover the publishing costs of their books. Funding can come from Stockholm University or from an external funder.
Stockholm University Press is a nonprofit organization. It does not collect revenue from print book sales. The total annual revenue is on average about GBP 150. 100% of the revenue comes from currency conversion rates due to print sales in different currencies.
The cost of running the press office is subsidized by the Stockholm University, and that the cost of production of books is covered by BPCs. The most common way to pay for the BPC is by internal departmental publishing grants or external research project grants or private foundation grants. This is, however, not registered as revenue by the Press, as SUP does not manage payments for the BPCs. The invoicing of BPCs is handled by Ubiquity Press, our contracted service provider. Therefore, the Press does not report any revenue back to the University, apart from the small contribution obtained from the currency conversion related to print book sales.
The main costs are associated with book production and the service fee that the service provider Ubiquity Press charges for handling parts of the publishing process. The average price for producing a book of about 200 pages with some images is approximately GBP 3 500. The University subsidizes the online platform for the press and the cost of staff and equipment at the Press office as a part of the Library.
The model has been successfully used for five years now. Due to the university’s support, the press operates within a stable environment, where the staff salaries are covered by the University’s budget and where the press is in a position to negotiate the prices of outsourced services with the chosen service providers. SUP is satisfied with its current model and is not looking into radically changing it in the near future.
CHALLENGES OF THE MODEL
Main challenges of the model lie in the funding availability for authors. Even though the Book Processing Charges are kept to a minimum that allows for the covering of the costs of production, these charges might still prove to be too high for some authors and therefore prevent them from choosing SUP as their press.
The second major challenge lies in the SUP’s dependence on one partner for the majority of the publishing process activities and infrastructure. This level of outsourcing to one sole service provider might make the whole operation vulnerable.
The third challenge, as stated by the SUP is of an educational nature: the press acts not only as a publishing house per se, but also as an educator for researchers on open access practices and needs to invest time and resources into advising authors on licensing issues, third-party rights and strategic aspects of academic publishing.