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Published July 26, 2022 | Version 1.0
Report Open

Opening the Future: How to Implement an Equitable Revenue Model for Open Access Monographs

  • 1. Birkbeck, University of London
  • 2. Central European University Press (CEU Press)


COVID-19 has thrown many aspects of university research culture into acute relief. As the reality of the virus dawned and campuses worldwide went into lockdown, publishers scrambled to unpaywall their research. Publishers made topical works and more general material openly available, through their own sites and platforms such as Project Muse and JSTOR. Physical collections became inaccessible and demand for openly accessible research skyrocketed. It is unclear that it is desirable to return to the previous systems of scholarly communication in the book publishing world, in which physical copies may remain affordable, even while e-licensing agreements for libraries are not.

This has been recognised in several recent global policy announcements including the cOAlition S/Plan S guidelines, and the recent UKRI consultation on OA. The latter’s proposed measures include the possibility of zero-embargo green OA, more liberal open licensing, and the long- vaunted requirement for funded monographs to be in scope. This last element built on a longstanding policy history in the UK foreshadowing a mandate for OA monographs.

That said, the path to OA monographs is not free of obstacles. Among the many issues, the most frequently raised is the business model of Book Processing Charges (BPCs) and their apparent unaffordability, mostly due to distributional allocation of library resources. Happily, several recent reports have detailed non-BPC OA revenue and business models that presses could use to transition to OA - one of the most recent being COPIM’s Revenue models for Open Access monographs 2020.

That report describes a variation on the journal ‘Subscribe to Open’ model whereby members ‘subscribe to a backlist, with the revenue then used to make the frontlist openly accessible’. This constitutes a new business model for OA monographs that had not previously been implemented. We implemented this model, dubbed ‘Opening the Future,’ in a partnership between the COPIM project, the Central European University Press (CEUP), and Liverpool University Press (LUP). This model presents a potential route for the mass and sustainable transition to OA of many small-to-mid sized university presses.

This document sets out how we implemented this model, including the documentation of challenges, resources, timetables, and activities. It is intended as a roadmap for other presses that wish to implement an ‘Opening the Future’-esque model. Of course, this document is unlikely to cover everything, but the authors are happy to respond to individual queries where this will prove helpful.


Community-led Open Publishing Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) is supported by the Research England Development (RED) Fund, and Arcadia—a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.


Opening the Future - COPIM WP3 Final Toolkit July 2022.pdf