Cambridge University Press is launching a crowdfunding campaign with Unbound to see if the model can work in publishing an academic title Open Access.
It is the first time Unbound has worked with an academic publisher.
The book involved is The Case for Scottish Independence: The Political Thought of Scottish Nationalism c 1960-2014 by Ben Jackson, associate professor in modern history at the University of Oxford. The book argues that the roots of Scottish nationalism lie in the decades after the 1960s, rather than the distant past of the Acts of Union or the Scottish Enlightenment.
CUP will publish the book next year; the three-month crowdfunding campaign is to cover the costs of making it available online and open access. If the campaign’s target is reached, everyone who pledged will get a copy of the book (£30 paperback, £80 hardback) and have their name listed in the back. Other rewards on offer to backers include having dinner with the author at University College, Oxford (£500).
The publisher told The Bookseller it is aiming "aiming to raise enough money to cover our standard Open Access book processing charge (around £9K) plus the cost of the initial print run", adding: "Should this experiment prove successful we will apply what we’ve learned to future projects and this may result in a different funding model. Any surplus will be re-invested in other Open Access publishing projects at the Press."
Ben Denne, director of publishing for the Press’s academic books, said: “As a university press we welcome and support the goals of open research – to increase collaboration and to improve the accessibility, efficiency and impact of research. The challenge is to do so in a way that allows us to continue investing in high quality content. The Open Access movement started with academic research journals, and books are still catching up. We are excited by the potential of Open Access publishing to reach wide audiences and determined to find sustainable ways to publish more of our books open access.
“There’s unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all solution to publishing academic books open access. What works for some titles may not work for others; what works for monographs may not be suitable for another type of book. In this case, individuals are effectively buying a copy of the book while raising the funds to publish open access in advance. It also allows us to experiment with crowdfunding as a way to promote the book, drawing on Unbound’s expertise.”
He added: “It has to be trial and error. That’s how change and innovation happen. The important point is that we are out there trying, testing different publishing models, working with the academic community and others to find the best solutions.”
Jackson said the experiment was “exciting.”
“If successful, it holds out the promise of making not only my own work but that of other academic authors more widely accessible, improving the spread of ideas, scholarship and debate,” he said.
Matthew Clayton, head of publishing at Unbound said: “This feels like a ground-breaking moment – using Unbound’s platform to help increase Open Access in academic publishing would dramatically shift the way things have previously worked. We are really delighted to be partnering with Cambridge University Press in this bold experiment.”