Open Book Publishers Community Interest Company

7/35 Main Index
1/2 East
2/4 Education and youth

About us


Founded in 2008 by a group of Cambridge academics passionate about providing free material to all, Open Book is now the major Open Access scholarly publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the UK. All our titles are free to read and are accessed by thousands of readers each day in over 207 countries. We currently have 74 titles, with over 800,000 book visits, averaging a readership of 400 readers per title per month. We are a registered Social Enterprise and Community Interest Company (CIC).

Your business model:

Open Book is innovative in its concept: we provide free high-quality educational material to all - and cover costs by selling inexpensive downloadable and printed editions. Open Book is innovative in its deliverable: we produce innovative books with interactive and multi-media content which greatly enhance the reading and learning experience.

Our social objective

Our mission statement is:

Researchers, authors and funding bodies are realising that the high price of access to academic books and journals means that only a select few can read their work. Open Access (that is, making texts free to read and reuse) helps spread research results and other educational materials to everyone, globally, not just to those who can afford it or have access to well-endowed university libraries able to pay the high prices required by commercial 'legacy' publishers. Scholars are realizing that participation in a system that confines the readership, and therefore the intellectual engagement, to the affluent few is not only morally questionable but a potential drag on the progress of their subject, and indeed of their academic careers. It is becoming a requirement for publicly-funded research to be made available in Open Access format and we are able to achieve this quickly and effectively. However, the debate as it stands today revolves around the proposition that Open Access is desirable provided that somebody pays the extra cost — clearly this is not a sustainable model. The choice has been misleadingly presented as one between more public expenditure and the (non-Open Access) status quo in which readers pay for access. In many countries including the UK public expenditure is already ingrained in the whole system, not only in the grants and tax advantages enjoyed by private charitable funding bodies, but also in the public financing of universities, including meeting the cost of books and journal subscriptions by university libraries. Despite 'market' appearances, taxpayers' money feeds into the income of legacy publishers, especially of journals. Since any increase in public expenditure would translate in a further transfer from the financially disadvantaged to the wealthy few, from the culturally deprived to the culturally privileged, more public expenditure is not attractive to any democratic government. Open Access academic publishing is financially more efficient and intellectually more inclusive, responsive, and therefore more effective. Open Access publishing can sustain itself from a mixed range of modest income streams, and quickly built a reputation for excellence, as we have demonstrated. Some academic societies and promotion committees, however, are still wedded to the old publishing ways. Young scholars especially are being unfairly urged into publishing their work into an undemocratic, financially unsustainable and technologically obsolete environment — rather than opting for a more dynamic future that many see coming and would prefer to join. It is time that academics prioritize dissemination and cease contracting out their work to legacy publishers whose corporate aims and practices include non-academic considerations. In the old system, created by the enlightenment, knowledge was produced, disseminated, and engaged with in the close world of universities, libraries and museums, learned societies and clubs, books and periodicals. In the age of paper and moveable type, with its associated costs and limited access, this was all that was possible. The digital age, on the other hand, provides us with the opportunity to break free of such constraints. We can have short books, long books, books that consist mostly of illustrations, books with moving images and audio material, books that are replete with links and books which interact with readers. Indeed we are now seeing a number of experiments ranging from participatory writing, interactive books, and works where links to primary sources add a new dimension to the research output: we are now free to think more in terms of the content we wish to convey, rather than of preconceived formats based on length, genre, category. At Open Book we welcome proposals that engage with knowledge in new ways, and we are willing to help individuals and institutions develop new ways of disseminating research to better inform and interact with readers and researchers. For example, our award-winning Denis Diderot’s ‘Rameau’s Nephew’: A Multi-Media Edition incorporates specially-recorded musical pieces into the body of the text, making Diderot’s work uniquely accessible and engaging for a general audience; one of our books on oral literature, Storytelling in Northern Zambia, allows readers not just to access the author's opinions on the topic, but also to listen and watch the storytellers directly. Many of our titles also provide additional digital resources that further enrich the research presented in the book. In this way readers can verify and participate in the academic discussion — and scholars can make further use of the primary material in their academic research. Open Book Publishers, is a signatory of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, participant in the OpenEdition project, and founding member of the Pure Open Access Alliance. Setting the research agenda Since academic jobs and promotions are often based on publishing record, this means that academic presses have a huge amount of power in setting our research agenda. With Open Access academics need no longer contract out their work to organizations whose corporate aims and practices include non-academic considerations, but can communicate directly with their readers. Independent review process We take the refereeing process very seriously to ensure that our publications are of the highest academic standard. All our book proposals and final manuscripts are peer-reviewed by at least two specialists in the relevant field. Open Book Publishers' non-profit ethos means that we are able to choose titles based on quality grounds alone After a first screening of the book proposal (with the help of our Advisory Board if appropriate) authors are invited to submit the complete or near-complete manuscript for assessment. We then ask at least two experts in the field to produce a detailed report within three months. We invite peer-reviewers to be highly selective and choose only manuscripts of excellence. On the basis of the referees' reports the three directors decide whether to approve the manuscript for publication. Once the manuscript is accepted we ask authors to consider referees' recommendations. Depending on how substantial these revisions are, we may ask the peer-reviewers to read the final manuscript for any additional comments or questions. Printed editions Besides our digital and online editions, with their many advantages, such as ability to search, we also offer printed books that provide the many other traditional advantages which readers rightly value. In our experience, the two media, that are designed for the convenience of different kinds of readers, complement one another and are able to prosper together. We use print-on-demand technology to provide top quality paperback and hardback editions of each monograph at affordable prices. Our books are printed in the UK and the USA and can be ordered from any country. Any revenue we generate goes back into publishing more high-quality monographs. Our future Having established that an Open Access publishing model is sustainable, we are looking to expand our operations. While continuing to produce high-quality academic books, our experience and expertise in Open Access formats allow us to help publishers, universities, academic groups and journals move to an OA model. Ultimately we are aiming to become the primary hub for free peer-reviewed research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Environmental policy All paper used by Open Book Publishers is SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) Certified. Book jacket paper is dual certified by FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and SFI. All paper used for jackets is manufactured using electricity generated by renewable wind power. All books are printed on acid-free paper.

The outcome areas we're focused on are:

  • Education, learning and skills

The beneficiary groups we work with are:

  • Other

Our structure

Company Registration Number: 6707027

Legal structure: Community Interest Company (CIC) limited by shares

Incorporation date: September 24, 2008

We are 100% employee owned