Publishing entrepreneur Frances Pinter is planning a 2013 pilot for the project she bills as a solution to the monograph publishing crisis. Previously known as the Global Library Consortium, the venture has now been formally named Knowledge Unlatched.
Pinter said she has had interest from "hundreds" of libraries in Australia, North America, the UK and the continent, while Ivy League university presses are also among those said to be willing to sign up to the programme.
The project is based on a two-sided approach by publishers and libraries to offer and buy open-access scholarly books. Under the scheme, libraries pay a sum via a consortium that covers publishers' fixed costs—including editing, formatting and design—with publishers, then put the work online on a creative commons, non-commercial licence. Publishers maintain the right to sell bespoke and enhanced e-books and print editions.
Pinter said the project offers "secure business" to publishers, while giving authors worldwide visibility and making buying cheaper for libraries. "Everybody recognises the academic market is in crisis, particularly in monographs, so they are so much more willing to give me a chance to try something new and see if it will work. Publishers and libraries are equally interested in participating," she said.
The Knowledge Unlatched project will be housed in the Big Innovation Centre in London, which was launched last autumn by economist Will Hutton and business secretary Vince Cable. The Big Innovation Centre works across government, public and private sectors, and higher education to make the UK a "global innovation hub".
Pinter has already tried out the publishing model, with an imprint based on the use of creative commons licences, in a previous role as publisher at Bloomsbury Academic. Prior to that, she was director of international publishing at the Soros Foundation.