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10.27.2021 | SSP News & Releases

Charleston Preconference Session Preview | Opening the Book

Interested in attending the SSP Charleston Conference Preconference Session but not traveling to Charleston this year? No problem – this session is now virtual!

“Opening the Book”
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 | 9:00 am – 12:00 pm


  • Laura Ricci, Senior Consultant, Clarke & Esposito
  • Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction & Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Vivian Berghahn, Managing Director, Berghahn Books, Inc.
  • Steve Fallon, Vice President, Americas and Strategic Partnerships, DeGruyter
  • Rachel Fox Von Swearingen, Collection Development & Analysis Librarian; Interim Librarian for Music & Performing Arts, Syracuse University
  • Charles Watkinson, Associate University Librarian for Publishing at University of Michigan Library and Director of University of Michigan Press

Mary Beth Barilla, SSP Programs Director, explained the reason for focusing on this topic this year: “The transition to open access has been slower for books than for journals. There are some fundamental differences between OA books and journals and the infrastructure and financial models that support them. However, there have been a number of new developments in OA book publishing that show that progress has been made. Several publishers have announced new OA book publishing programs, and Coalition S recently released its recommendations for OA monograph publishing. Anyone publishing or interested in publishing open access monographs, including university presses and independent publishers, should be interested in the preconference. The panel features several representatives from presses who have developed successful monograph programs, and we will also hear from a consultant who has researched the infrastructure (or lack thereof) supporting OA books. All of these speakers will have valuable experience and ideas to share.”

Speaker Charles Watkinson hopes attendees will appreciate the opportunity for frank discussion among diverse speakers: “What distinguishes this event is that the panelists bring very different perspectives and the moderator, Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, is one of the most provocative and interesting thinkers in scholarly communication. This will not be a boring session, and I think we’ll all be forced to confront some of the awkward and controversial questions and tensions that OA book publishing tends to shy away from. There needs to be a frank conversation, and I see this event as being the ideal forum.”

Laura Ricci adds: “I’m looking forward to a robust discussion about the incentives for stakeholders with one (or both) feet in the traditional books world to engage with OA monographs. Monographs are unlike journals in that they exist as single, discrete units, and the supply chain is designed to make them available through as many channels and platforms as possible. OA monographs complicate things because these traditional systems are designed to value information about “units sold”, and not the broader forms of engagement which are the goal of OA. Collating usage from lots of sources can be time-consuming and difficult, if not impossible, and some channels are unable to support OA versions – even when they show a paid access or print version for sale! Traditional and OA monographs are in many cases inextricably linked, and there’s work to do if OA monographs are to have room to grow.”

Steve Fallon hopes that the discussion will spur “ideas for how to strengthen the interactions between publisher, service provider, and consumer for OA books that support the OA core principles of ‘availability, inclusivity, and dissemination,’ and the recognition that we are at a tipping point for sustaining the publishing of “low-use scholarly monographs” and then how open access is a viable way to accomplish sustainability with community involvement.”

Moderator Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe provided a preview of the provocative questions she is looking forward to discussing: Open Access has the potential for monographs to reach new audiences but there are also challenges with business models, distribution, metadata, and other considerations. Will libraries be a source of funding for book processing charges? How will we curate a collection of open access monographs? How will the system transition and what is the role of print and the monograph ecosystem? These are just some of the many questions that I anticipate. We are just at the beginning of the journey with open monographs!

With the move to a virtual event, there is still time to register and SSP looks forward to a diverse audience. Mary Beth addsI’m excited that Charleston is opening the preconference to both remote and on-site attendees. Including those who are unable to attend in person can only make for an even more interesting discussion!”

Click here to register now! Don’t forget to use promo code 2021-CHS-SSP to save 20%!

News contribution by SSP member, Rebecca Rinehart. Rebecca is the CEO and Head of US Business Operations at Maverick Publishing Specialists.

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