The Costs of Publishing Monographs: Toward a Transparent Methodology

  • Maron N
  • Schmelzinger K
  • Mulhern C
  • et al.
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The University Press business model faces numerous challenges today, with revenues under pressure due to a host of factors, from the decline of bricks-and-mortar stores and shifting library purchase patterns to the still emerging distribution and revenue models made possible by digital books. Over the last few years, certain forces have emerged and intensified—federal mandates for Open Access, declining sales reach, and the desire of university presses to build a greater audience for scholarly works—encouraging university presses to seriously consider what it would take to make their scholarly monographs openly available. While there have been numerous efforts to understand the costs of publishing a scholarly monograph, this study is unique in that we worked with an advisory group of university press publishers to identify all of the cost components in scholarly monographic publishing and to work with a wide variety of university presses to calculate their costs of each of those components in a bottom-up fashion. In April 2014, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a planning grant to Ithaka S+R to convene a panel of experts to develop a study methodology for determining in as granular a way as possible the true costs of publishing scholarly monographs. The workshop brought together some of the best thinkers on this topic and resulted in a research methodology for this project, also funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and conducted by Ithaka S+R from January through November 2015. This research project takes on a fundamental question at the heart of any potential new model to support OA monographs: What does it cost to create and disseminate them?




Maron, N., Schmelzinger, K., Mulhern, C., & Rossman, D. (2016). The Costs of Publishing Monographs: Toward a Transparent Methodology. The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 19(1).

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