European university presses and the transition to open access

// Blogpost by Christina Lenz //

bokmassan-i-frankfurtThe Association of European University Presses (AEUP) was founded in 2010. It is an organisation of University Presses across Europe, where 32 presses and organisations from 15 countries participate. AEUP aims to:

• enhance the visibility of member presses
• facilitate communication between them
• link the channels of distribution of books
• share knowledge about all aspects of scholarly publishing
• strengthen common mission to support scholarly publishing
• spread the catalogue metadata as wide as possible

“It is important that we understand each other’s situation and how different the relationship to the university each university Press has”

Since last spring, Stockholm University Press has been a member of AEUP and I was going to Frankfurt to participate in AEUP’s annual member meeting, which is always held at the Frankfurt Book Fair. At the meeting three new AEUP board members were elected and I was one of them. We were appr. 25 people who attended the meeting, where 15 members were represented.

– It is important that we understand each other’s situation and how different the relationship to the university each university Press has. We will benefit from a better understanding of each other’s different conditions, differences, cultures, laws and help each other according to our own experiences. For example, some presses are self-funded by small margins; and some haven’t already considered to transform to open access publishing. The transition to open access can be very differently experienced.

– Chairman Isabella Meinecke (Hamburg University Press) stressed
the range and differences among the member presses.

Experiences and challenges of being an open access publisher

All new member were asked to present themselves, as well as the new members of the board. As Stockholm University press is a fully open access publisher – we publish everything with a CC-BY-licence and the copyright stays with the author – one of our reasons of being part of AEUP is to share experiences and challenges of being an open access publisher.

But I know what other university presses are going through. I have experienced the transition from working as an editor of for nearly twenty years at a print based commercial university press until 2012, and then being part of building up Stockholm University as a fully open access publisher.

While at the Frankfurt Bookfair, I visited the stand of European University Presses, where AEUP members can participate. I wanted to talk to them about their experiences of open access publishing. The stand was staffed and organized by the German language university publishers’ organisation AG Universitätsverlage, an organisation with 24 active university presses from Germany, Austria and Italy.

All of those I talked to stated that they are well established presses at their universities. Most are self-funded and receive no funding from the universities. They finance their operations through commercial sales of books and (sometimes high) author fees. So I learned, as Isabella said, that some of the European University presses have not gone over to open access, at least not fully. They need to find new business models if they are to make the transition to open access.

Amsterdam University Press is an example of a University Press that has found a business model for open access publishing, by requesting high author fees, or Book processing charges (BPC’s), for open access publishing with CC-licenses. This is very common and also what most commercial publishers do. Here I find that Stockholm University Press (SUP) and other Ubiquity Press Partners, have a priceworthy business model for our authors.

AEUP membership workshop/conference in May 2017

Members of AEUP have asked for an opportunity to meet with other university presses to discuss current and common issues and to exchange experiences. Therefore, on the agenda of the meeting was also to discuss a two day workshop/conference in spring 2017.

The first board meeting after the Frankfurt member meeting was held on November 9th. The board decided that the event will be held at Stockholm University Library in May 2017. All of us in the SUP team are looking forward to be the hosts of this event for all AEUP members and other interested parties. I’m sure we will talk about open access, open science and open data in one way or another during these two days.

Related links

Anthony Watkinson’s (UCL, Department of Information Studies) presentation about his career in scholarly publishing, working for both not-for-profit and commercial publishers.

Eelco Ferweda, representing OAPEN reported that Knowledge Unlatched initiates a 5-month-study on open access monographs.


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