Dr Frances PinterScholarly book publishers, like their siblings in the journal world, today face growing financial stress along with mounting demands by academic audiences for free or low-cost content. The search is on for sustainable business models that accommodate and address these challenges. A non-profit, UK-based startup Knowledge Unlatched is looking to create an international consortium of libraries that will pay the fixed cost for quality professional publishing services.

“As an academic publisher, watching the print runs go down and the prices going up of monographs, I asked myself the question, ‘Where is the money that’s paying for monographs now?’ I found that it’s actually the libraries that are supporting the publication of monographs, because they’re the ones that are buying these books,” founder Frances Pinter explained to CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

KU Logo“So then I posed myself the question, ‘Well, how can we actually achieve more effective, efficient use of those funds in a way that also achieves open access?’ If we find ways of funding the books earlier on in their development and in a different point in the value chain, then we might be able to have a true win-win-win situation for everybody – for readers, for authors, and for the publishers and libraries that serve the scholarly community.”

At age 23, Frances Pinter was the first woman to establish her own publishing company in the UK; Pinter Publishers later became a leader in social sciences publishing. In 2008, Bloomsbury Academic appointed Frances as its founding publisher, and she was the publisher most recently of the digitized Winston Churchill archive collection launched in 2012. Frances is also a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and was consultant to Creative Commons.

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