Open Access Monographs

Welcome to the Guide to Open Access Monographs!

The scholarly monograph has received considerably less attention from the Open Access movement than journals and journal articles have. Nevertheless, the scholarly monograph should not be excluded from the Open Access movement. There are three main reasons for this:

  • “a full-length scholarly book (two in some instances) [is] a de facto condition of tenure in humanities departments.“ (Cronin & La Barre, 2004, 87);
  • as John Willinsky has pointed out, the scholarly monograph is a sign of research maturity and in-depth analysis: “It might well seem […] that any decline in the ability of scholars and researchers to turn to this particular device for thinking through a subject in full, both as writers and readers, speaks to a troubling reduction in the extent and coherence of what we can know of the world.” (Willinsky, 2008, 1)
  • The ongoing crisis in the publishing world has lead to a decline in the publication of scholarly monographs (Renfro, 1997). Open Access scholarly monographs seem to be a great opportunity for everyone involved in scholarly communication.

This blog wants to give some guidance on Open Access e-books. There are many great scholarly books out there – for immediate use, delight and learning.

Open Access Monographs

This useful resource is provided by OASIS: Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook. Practical steps for implementing Open Access. The objectives of the site is, according to OASIS:

“The online content is intended to provide training and resources for anyone or institutions who wish to provide open access to their research publications. The objectives are:
• to increase the number of trainers and centres of expertise worldwide
• to expand the knowledge base of open access implementation
• to share resources and best practices
• to demonstrate and record successful outcomes of OA around the world”

The site touches upon the value of scholarly monographs, the publishing of Open Access e-books and Open Access as a business model.

Open Monograph Press

The Open Monograph Press is yet another project from the Public Knowledge Project. The site offers insight into a promising new project: the development of the equivalent of the successful Open Journal System:

“Open Monograph Press, a new open source publishing product under development by the Public Knowledge Project, will establish an online workspace for publishing monographs, edited volumes, and scholarly editions, while keeping an archival record of the process (compatible with the Fedora repository).”

Open Humanities Press

Open Humanities Press is another promising project. No books have been published yet, but it does sound and look promising:

“Open Humanities Press is pleased to launch a new series in literary and cultural theory published in conjunction with the University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office. Each Critical Climate Change book will be freely available as an electronic book (open access) and as reasonably priced paperbacks.”

More and more libraries are involved in the design and maintenance of digital repositories – and even the publishing of e-books, as in the case of the University of Michigan Library. For more on Open Access Monographs and University Presses, please see the post on University Presses below.

Publishers of Open Access Books

This is a comprehensive list at the Open Access Directory, a wiki devoted to Open Access issues. The list includes all kinds of publishers, including University Presses and commercial publishers.

Open Access e-Books

The Pakistan National Digital Library offers this extensive list of e-books provider. Worth a visit!

Munich Digitization Center at the Bavarian State Library

This digitization project is from one of the best German research libraries. Not exactly about Open Access in the strict sense, but a great resource for all book lovers.

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University Presses


“OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) is a collaborative initiative to develop and implement a sustainable Open Access publication model for academic books in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The OAPEN Library aims to improve the visibility and usability of high quality academic research by aggregating peer reviewed Open Access publications from across Europe.”

There are around 1000 titles available, 251 in the humanities alone.

The following University Presses are members of OAPEN:

  • Amsterdam University Press
  • Leiden University Press
  • Göttingen University Press
  • Manchester University Press
  • Presses Universitaires de Lyon
  • Firenze University Press

University of Adelaide Press

There are currently 13 monographs in the database of the University of Adelaide Press. The subjects are both in the humanities as well the sciences.

Athabasca University Press

There are currently 98 titles available from Athabasca University Press. The subjects range from Anthropology to Women’s Studies.

ANU E Press

The Australian National University Electronic Press offers great many titles:

“Hosted by the Division of Information at The Australian National University, ANU E Press was established in 2003 to explore and enable new modes of scholarly publishing. Taking advantage of new information and communication technologies to make available the intellectual output of the academic community of the ANU, the primary focus of ANU E Press is the production of electronic scholarly texts. However, all texts are also available for purchase through a Print on Demand (PoD) service.”

University of California Press

“UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004, includes almost 2,000 books from academic presses on a range of topics, including art, science, history, music, religion, and fiction. Access to the entire collection of electronic books is open to all University of California faculty, staff, and students, while more than 500 of the titles are available to the public.”

University of Columbia Press

“Columbia University Press is pleased to announce that Gutenberg-e is now an open access site. These award winning monographs, coordinated with the American Historical Association, afford emerging scholars new possibilities for online publications, weaving traditional narrative with digitized primary sources, including maps, photographs, and oral histories. The American Council of Learned Societies also carry Gutenberg-e titles on their Humanities E-Book platform.”

There are currently 35 monographs available.

The National Academies Press

“As of June 2, 2011, all PDF versions of books published by the National Academies Press (NAP) will be downloadable to anyone free of charge.”

There are more than 4000 titles available!

The Ohio State University Press

There are 68 e-books available in literary studies, including narrative theory, Victorian studies, medieval studies, history and classics.

University of Ottawa Press

The University of Ottawa Press offers 55 monographs in English and French with a wide array of subjects in the humanities.

Penn State University Press – Romance Studies

There are 9 titles so far available.

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More and more publishers are trying the Open Access model. For most of the publishers though, this means a hybrid model. There are few publishers who are solely Open Access publishers.

Open Book Publishers

“At Open Book Publishers we are changing the nature of the traditional academic book. As well as printed editions, we offer online digital editions free of charge so that students, researchers and members of the public who cannot afford a printed edition can still have access to quality research. We are proud to say that our online titles are currently being accessed by hundreds of readers each month in over 120 countries. Our digital publishing model allows us to extend our books well beyond the printed page. On our website, we produce online supplementary material, including extra chapters, reviews, links, image galleries and other digital resources.”

More and more authors are publishing their book-length studies with renowned publishing houses, but at the same time offering access to the content of their books in various formats (HTML or PDF). Here are some notable authors and their freely available books:

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Open Textbooks

Textbooks are expensive. Therefore, they have been targeted early on from the Open Access movement.

Open Access Textbooks

The Open Access Textbooks Grant Project is a project with the goal to “create a sustainable model for Florida and other states to discover, produce, and disseminate open textbooks.” Open Access Textbooks wants to create a sustainable open textbook model and a network to enhance free access to textbooks. According to Open Access Textbooks, the model consists of the following sections:

  • The Project – An Overview
  • Getting Started
  • University Press of Florida Book Acquisition
  • Promoting Authorship
  • Promoting Adoption
  • Sustaining a Reliable Revenue Stream
  • References and Appendixes

“This open textbook model is designed to develop and test a set of processes and strategies to establish a statewide open textbook initiative intended to reduce textbook costs for students and increase recognition of faculty for open access publishing as a scholarly activity. The results of this approach will be evaluated and a set of guidelines will be the result. As the academic and business worlds interact and change, new opportunities and challenges arise. The open textbook model is intended to be sufficiently adaptable to embrace new opportunities and meet new challenges.”

The Global Text Project

Global Text Project is another initiative with the goal to promote open textbooks – worldwide. Much like the Open Monograph Press from the Public Knowledge Project, it offers the infrastructure to publish those textbooks. But there are also downloadable textbooks in the sciences and social sciences available.

“The project will create open content electronic textbooks that will be freely available from a website. Distribution will also be possible via paper, CD, or DVD. Our goal initially is to focus on content development and Web distribution, and we will work with relevant authorities to facilitate dissemination by other means when bandwidth is unavailable or inadequate. The goal is to make textbooks available to the many who cannot afford them.”

Flat World Knowledge

Flat World Knowledge is a publisher of Open Access textbooks.

“We are the world’s largest publisher of free and open college textbooks. With our ever-expanding catalog of top quality books by expert authors, now is your chance to be a hero and help your students save thousands of dollars. Get started today and join the textbook affordability movement.”

The Student PIRGs

The Student PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups) “organize college students to solve some of the world’s most pressing public interest problems.” One of their projects is “Make Textbooks Affordable”.

“Textbook prices are increasing every semester, so the time to take action is now.  Although no one can solve the problem single handedly, we can all play a part in reducing the cost of textbooks.  We have students and faculty members working on the campaign at over 100 colleges, but we need all of the help we can get!”

Here is how Students can take action, and here are suggestions for action for Faculty.

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Research Literature

Adema, J. & Ferwerda, E. (2009). Open Access for Monographs. Retrieved July 14, 2011, from

Cronin, B., La Barre, K. (2004). Mickey Mouse and Milton: book publishing in the humanities. Learned Publishing, 17, 85–98.

Hadro, J. (2010). At SPARC-ACRL Forum, Reality Check on Open Access Monographs. Rertrieved July 14, 2011, from

Hagerlid, J. (2011). Open Access to Monographs in the Humanities and Social Science. Retrieved July 14, 2011, from

Renfro, P. E. (1997). The Specialized Scholarly Monograph in Crisis, Or, How Can I Get Tenure If You Won’t Publish My Book? Retrieved June 14, 2011, from

Willinsky, J. (2008). Toward the Design of an Open Monograph Press. Retrieved July 14, 2011, from

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