Why you should buy The Gold OA Landscape, for various values of “you.”

The PDF ebook version of The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 appeared on September 10, 2015. To date (nine days short of three months), it has sold three copies.

The paperback version of The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 appeared on September 11, 2015. To date (eight days short of three months), it has apparently sold nine copies (but it’s possible there are November sales on Amazon, Ingram and Barnes & Noble that haven’t yet been reported).

My September 10, 2015 post offered seven good reasons why libraries, OA advocates and OA publishers might want to buy the book. Those reasons are still a good overall set, so I’ll repeat them here, followed by a little comment on “various values of ‘you’.”

Overall reasons “you” should buy this book

  1. It’s the first comprehensive study of actual publishing patterns in gold OA journals (as defined by inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals as of June 15, 2015).
  2. I attempted to analyze all 10,603 journals (that began in 2014 or earlier), and managed to fully analyze 9,824 of them (and I’d say a fully multilingual group would only get 20 more: that’s how many journals I just couldn’t cope with because Chrome/Google didn’t overcome language barriers).
  3. The book offers considerable detail on 9,512 journals (that appear not to be questionable or nonexistent) and what they’ve published from 2011 through 2014, including APC levels, country of publication, and other factors.
  4. It spells out the differences among 28 subject groups (in three major segments) in what’s clearly an extremely heterogeneous field. The 28 pictures of smaller groups of journals are probably more meaningful than the vast picture of the whole field.
  5. If enough people buy this (either edition), an anonymized version of the source spreadsheet will be made available on figshare.
  6. If enough people buy this (either edition), it will encourage continuation of the study for 2015.
  7. Mostly, it’s good to have real data about OA. Do most OA articles involve fees? It depends: in the humanities and social sciences, mostly not; in STEM and biomed, mostly yes. Do most OA journals charge fees? It depends–in biology, yes, but in almost all other fields, no.

Other stuff

Since those first posts, I’ve offered a number of specifics from some chapters (and published an excerpted version of the book–about one-third of it, with none of the graphs–as the October 2015 Cites & Insights. Through yesterday (November 30, 2015), that issue has been downloaded 2,686 times: 1,992 in the single-column format (decidedly preferable in this case), 694 in the traditional print-oriented two-column format.

If one of every ten downloads resulted in a purchased copy (through Lulu), the continuation of this project would be assured for the next two years (assuming I’m still around and healthy). Thar is:

  • An anonymized version of the current spreadsheet would be up on figshare, available for anybody to use.
  • I would carry out a full 2015 study (and update of the existing study) based on DOAJ as of early January 2016.
  • The PDF version of the results would be available for free and the anonymized spreadsheet would be on figshare.
  • The paperback version would be available at a modest price, probably under $25.
  • For 2016 data (DOAJ as of early 2017), the same thing would happen.

Heck, if one out of every fifty downloads resulted in a copy purchased through Lulu, an anonymized version of the current spreadsheet would be up on figshare. (If one out of every ten downloads resulted in an Ingram/B&N/Amazon sale, the spreadsheet would be up and I’d certainly carry out the 2015 study and make the spreadsheet available, but perhaps not the free PDF or minimally-priced paperback.)

Where we are, though, is at a dozen: twelve copies to date. Now, maybe all the advocates and publishers are at the seemingly endless series of open access conferences (or maybe it just seems that way from OATP and twitter coverage) and haven’t gotten around to ordering copies.

It’s interesting (or not) to note that Worldcat.org currently shows that 1,230 libraries own copies of Open Access: What You Need to Know Now. Which is still, to be sure, a relevant and worthwhile quick summary of OA.

“It’s early yet,” I continue saying, albeit more softly each time. I don’t want to believe that there’s simply no real support for this kind of real-world detailed measurement of serious Gold OA in action (where “support” has to be measured by willingness to contribute, not just willingness to download freebies), but it’s not looking real promising at the moment. I’ve already seen that a tiny sampling regarding an aspect of OA done by Respectable Scholars will get a lot more coverage and apparent interest than a complete survey, to the extent that disputing the results of that sampling begins to seem useless.

Various values of “you”

What do I believe the book has to offer “you”? A few possibilities:

You, the academic library

If your institution includes a library school (or an i-school), it almost seems like a no-brainer: $55 buys you campuswide electronic access to an in-depth study of an important part of scholarly publishing’s present and future–showing how big a part it already is, its extent in various fields, how much is or isn’t being spent on it, what countries are most involved in each subject, and on and on…

For the rest of you, it seems like you’d also want to have some detailed knowledge of the state of serious gold OA, since that has the best chance of increasing access to scholarly publications and maybe, perhaps, either slowing down the rate of increase in serials costs or even saving some money.

For that matter, if your library is either starting to publish open access journals or administering an APC support fund, shouldn’t you know more about the state of the field? If, for example, you plan a journal in language and linguistics, it should be useful to know that there are more than 500 of them out there; that almost none of them charge APCs; that of those that do, only six charge more than $353; that the vast majority (350) published no more than 18 articles in 2014; and that Brazil is the hotbed of gold OA publishing in these areas. (Those are just examples.)

You, the open access advocate

You really should have this book at hand when you’re reading various commentaries with dubious “facts” about the extent of OA publishing and charges for that publishing.

Too bad there’s no open access activities in the humanities and social sciences? Nonsense! While most serious gold OA journals in this field are relatively small, there are a lot of them–more than 4,000 in all–and they’ve accounted for more than 95,000 articles in each year 2012-2014, just under 100,000 in 2014. More than three-quarters of those articles didn’t involve APCs, and total potential revenues for the segment didn’t reach $10 million in 2014, but there’s a load of activity–with the biggest chunks in Brazil, the United States, Spain, Romania and Canada, but with 22 nations publishing at least 1,000 articles each in 2014 (Singapore is the 22nd).

Those are just a few data points. This book offers a coherent, detailed overview, and I believe it would make you a more effective advocate. And if you deeply believe that readers should never have to pay for anything involved with open access, well, I invite you to help find me grant or institutional funding, so that can happen.

You, the open access publisher

Surely you should know where your journal(s) stand in comparison to the overall shape of OA and of specific fields? Just as surely, you should want this research to continue–and buying the book (or contributing directly) is the way that will happen. (On the other hand, if you publish one of the 65 journals that appear to have malware, you really, truly need to take care of that–and I’ve already published that list for free.)

You, none of the above

If you’re a library person who cares about OA or about the health of your libraries, but you’re not really an advocate, chances are you stopped reading long ago. If not, well, you should also find the book worthwhile.

Otherwise? I suspect that at this point I’m speaking to an empty room, so I’ll stop.

The next update will probably appear when Amazon/B&N/Ingram figures for November appear in my Lulu stream, some time in the next week or two.

Oh: one side note: I mentioned elsewhere that the back cover of the book is just “OA gold” with the ISBN. What I mean by “OA gold” is the precise shade of gold uses in the OA open-lock logo as it appears in Wikimedia. I downloaded the logo and used Paint.net’s color chooser to make that the background color for the entire cover. (I never was able to get a suitable shade of gold/orange using other techniques.)

Here’s the book cover, in case you weren’t aware of it:



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