How to choose a publisher for your open access book 1
As with any book proposal, when choosing a publisher for your open access book you should consider whether they publish high-quality work in your subject area, but also explore important issues including licensing, fees and discoverability.
Many academic publishers produce open access books, including university, commercial and academic-led publishers (See Types of publishers and publishing services). A publisher should give clear information on their website about the services they offer and any fees involved, the open access model they offer and their peer-review processes. They should provide accurate contact details, including a named contact, phone number and physical address.
Consider whether the publisher is a member of OASPA and thus fulfils the OASPA membership criteria, and consult sources, such as the OAPEN list of publishers, which indicate compliance with the access requirements of European research funders. You do not need to restrict your search to publishers on these lists, but they are a useful starting point. The website “Think. Check. Submit.” helps authors to determine if a publisher is trustworthy, by providing a checklist for books and chapters.
Other important aspects to consider when choosing a publisher for your open access book include:
Some publishers charge a book processing charge (BPC) when publishing an open access book. If the press charges a fee, check that the costs and the services they cover are laid out transparently. Some publishers may offer royalties on print sales of open access books, which you may wish to take into consideration.
If you expect your institution or funder to pay a fee, make sure that the publisher meets their requirements (OAPEN b, n.d.). It is also worth making sure that you have checked with your funder that the costs will indeed be covered (See List of funding sources for open access books).
As with any book project, you should make sure your prospective publisher uses rigorous peer-review processes. These should be detailed on their website. See if your publisher complies with the peer-review requirements of independent bodies, such as OAPEN, DOAB and OASPA (See Peer review and quality control).
Copyright and reuse rights
Unlike some publishers who will require you to sign over your copyright or certain reuse rights before they will publish your book, many publishers do not require this for open access books, therefore allowing you and others to share and reuse your work (See Contracting and copyright).
Some publishers only make an open access PDF (Portable Document Format) version of the book. Others produce formats such as HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) or XML (Extensible Markup Language), which are more easily searchable and reusable. Publishers may also offer an EPUB, which is compatible with most e-readers and work together with Amazon to provide an AZW3 format for Amazon e-readers. Many open access publishers will also sell a print copy in addition to the digital version (See Digital and print publication).
Any open access book must be openly licensed. There is a range of licences available: check that your publisher has clearly explained your licensing options and you have chosen the most appropriate licence for your work. You should also check whether your institution or funders’ open access policy includes requirements regarding the licence you can use. (See Choosing a licence).
Some publishers might not publish an open access edition of the book until paid-for editions have been in circulation for a period of time. Other presses release the open access edition immediately. Check if your funder or institution’s open access policy permits an embargo period, and if so, whether there are stipulations about its maximum length.
Discoverability and dissemination
Check that open access books on a publisher’s website are clearly marked and easy to find, and try searching for a publisher’s books on the web to see how high they appear in the search results.
Are their books widely available in stores and libraries? Are they featured on large open access platforms such as OAPEN and the DOAB? See, for example, Open Book Publishers’ page on the distribution and retail of their open access books (See Dissemination and discoverability).
What is the marketing and publicity plan for the book? Will the fact that it is open access be widely promoted?
Consider whether the publisher ensures long-term archiving and preservation of digital editions, for example via OAPEN or CLOCKSS.
Open access via a repository (self-archiving)
Some publishers will not publish an open access edition of the book, but they allow a pre-publication version, typically the author’s manuscript, to be freely shared online, such as in an institutional repository. This is also known as green open access.
Some publishers will be able to provide you with download and citation figures for your open access book. This information could help you secure further funding for future projects and help to build your career.
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