Making Book 16: Open Access

For many years, I wrote about open access—even before such a term existed—but as an observer and participant, not really an advocate. Peter Suber called me an OA independent, and that was as good a term as any.

For some years, I more-or-less gave up on OA: too many people were writing about it, too many folks were taking extreme stances and blathering interminably if you didn’t agree with them 100%, it just got tiresome. And, as a non-scientist, I didn’t think I was doing much good. (As a library person—not a librarian—I also recognized that librarians have been discussing and promoting OA for years, generally being ignored by scientists and dissed by some self-appointed OA Leaders, Suber definitely not one of those dissing librarians.) Indeed, I self-published a collection of all the pieces I’d written through 2009 because I didn’t expect to write much more. (That collection is still available—free in PDF form, $17.50 for the 513-page paperback.)

In fact, I wrote almost nothing about Open Access in Cites & Insights in 2010, 2011 or the first 10 months of 2012. (2013 was an entirely different story: I could produce a reasonably fat paperback with OA-related material from December 2012 through 2013.)

But it also became clearer and clearer that many librarians (and others) didn’t understand OA—not surprisingly, given the sheer amount of disinformation produced by some publishers and one or two absurd blogs and the steeply variant views of some supporters.

So I worked to remedy that—and found ALA Editions amenable to the idea, as one in their occasional “Special Reports” series. These fairly brief books are written fairly quickly and edited fairly quickly: the book was available three months after completion. I believe Open Access: What You Need to Know Now continues to serve as a fine introduction to OA in plain language with a library orientation.

Since then, Peter Suber—who, along with Charles W. Bailey, Jr. and Dorothea Salo, was kind enough to read the draft and provide an excellent blurb for—has published Open Access through MIT Press (now available as an OA ebook). I regard the two books as complementary, as do some reviewers.

I’m proud of this book. I won’t comment here on my feelings about some Amazon “reviewers.” The book hasn’t been a best-seller, but it has earned out its advance (I’m getting small royalties from it), so it’s also not a failure.

Crawford, Walt. Open Access: What You Need to Know Now. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2011. ISBN 978-0-8389-1106-8 (pbk.)

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