Amherst College Press Plans To Be First, All Open-Access College Press

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A new digital initiative from Amherst College will publish and give away peer-reviewed scholarly ebooks (and printable online versions too).

“We will be the first university or college press to publish books solely under an open-access model,” said Amherst College Librarian Bryn Geffert in a statement.

Digital publishing continually reshapes what books are, what publishers do, and how content is distributed: book agents now use e-tailers’ conversion and distribution services and independent authors sell ebooks directly to consumers (on occasion to great acclaim). So it’s not surprising that scholarly content producers are finding creative ways to bypass conventional publishers too. Especially considering that an academic title, hardcover or ebook, can sell for well over $100, and authors commonly spend more than they earn to get their work published.

Amherst College Press anticipates filling an unmet need as well. “There are not as many online venues for high-quality writing and scholarship in the humanities as there are in the sciences….Our open-access press will place Amherst at the forefront of a movement that we hope will be embraced by leading scholars in the humanities,” said Amherst College president, Carolyn “Biddy” Martin in the statement.

Other publishers and organizations have keyed-in on the need for reputable, open-access digital scholarly publishing as well. This past summer Springer Science + Business Media grew SpringerOpen, its open-access offerings, to include books. And, the Public Knowledge Project makes its Open Monograph Press software available at no cost “to assist university presses, learned societies, and scholar-publishers interested in publishing scholarly books in print-on-demand and multiple electronic formats, whether on an open access or purchase basis.”

Amherst College Press aims to begin accepting manuscripts for review by summer 2013.

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