Do open access monographs undermine published versions?

Margaret DeLacy's picture


The Scholarly Kitchen blog has posted a guest column by John Sherer discussing the question of whether making monographs available through Open Access reduces sales of print copies. This announces a new research project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to look into the issue.  Below is an excerpt and link:

"During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when students, faculty, scholars, and researchers were being displaced from campuses and research centers, platforms like Books at JSTOR, EBSCO, and Project MUSE asked university presses to temporarily make their digital monographs free to read and open to anyone via so-called emergency libraries. Not every press said yes, but many did. This created an unprecedented real-world experiment where these vendors could look at the usage of books that had long been paywalled but were suddenly free to read. No one was surprised that usage went up. But many of us were surprised by how much their usage increased and that much of the growth occurred in regions which have historically lacked access to such works. At the same time, many presses saw increases in print activity. It was a unique moment and we’ll probably never be able to unpack everything that was going on, but during those months in the spring and summer of 2020, when much of the world seemed to be falling apart at the seams, the myth that university press monographs were too esoteric to be read was shattered. These books circulated in both digital and print formats at unprecedented rates."