Coventry University to play key role in £5.8 million project to deliver a more sustainable future for Open Access books

Thursday 30 March 2023

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A new project that works to increase access to valuable research is to receive more than £5.8 million in funding.

The Open Book Futures (OBF) collaboration will develop and support organisations, tools and practices that enable both academics and the wider public to make more and better use of books published on an Open Access basis.

Open Access books can be accessed and used online free of charge.

Researchers from Coventry University’s Centre for Postdigital Cultures (CPC) are working with a consortium of universities, publishers, libraries, and infrastructure and service providers, to support the project, which is being led by Lancaster University.

Funded by Arcadia and the Research England Development (RED) Fund, the project marks a shift in the ambition, scope and impact of community-owned Open Access book publishing. The OBF project will significantly increase and improve the quantity, discoverability, preservation and accessibility of academic content to all.

This will be done by building the infrastructures, business models, networks and resources that are needed to deliver a future for Open Access books, led not by large commercial operations but by communities of scholars, small-to medium-sized publishers, not-for-profit infrastructure providers, and scholarly libraries.

Due to start on Monday 1 May, Open Book Futures builds on the pioneering work of the Community-Led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) project.

COPIM, a strategic and international collaboration co-led by Dr Janneke Adema from the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, began the work of establishing the key open, community-led solutions required to address the barriers to the wider impact of Open Access books.

Coventry University will lead on the expansion and maintenance of COPIM’s Experimental Publishing Compendium, a community-maintained resource to promote experimental book publishing. As part of this work three experimental book pilots will be conducted, in collaboration with publishers, authors, technology and platform providers, and designers, to help challenge and future-proof the OBF project’s infrastructures to accommodate more diverse and complex book forms.

It is exciting to be able to contribute to a project that promises to profoundly reshape the very mechanisms through which academic knowledge circulates, in a context in which far too much high-quality book-length scholarship remains widely inaccessible.

A core principle of the Open Book Futures project is that this situation can only be successfully addressed collaboratively. I am therefore so pleased to be able to bring together such a talented group of scholars, librarians, publishers, infrastructure providers and advocacy groups with the skills to deliver the new technical infrastructures and ways of working that can respond to the many and varied needs of a global scholarly community.

Principal Investigator, Dr Joe Deville, of Lancaster University and Co-Investigator on the COPIM project

We are really thankful to the funders of the Open Book Futures project, the RED Fund and Arcadia, for their ongoing support of our work and proud to be able to continue what we started as part of COPIM. This grant will support the long-term sustainability of these community-led and owned book infrastructures while building further international connections and networks with other partners and projects working towards an open knowledge commons for books.

Co-Investigator Dr Janneke Adema, of Coventry University, who is also the Co-Principal Investigator on the COPIM project

Arcadia supports work to preserve endangered cultural heritage, protect endangered ecosystems, and promote access to knowledge. Since 2002 Arcadia has awarded more than $1 billion to organizations around the world.

RED supports innovation in research and knowledge exchange in higher education that offers significant public benefits.

Find out more about the Janneke Adema’s research and the Centre for Postdigital Cultures.