Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, September 05, 2008

Bloomsbury launches a new imprint for OA books

Bloomsbury Publishing has announced a new OA imprint, Bloomsbury Academic.  From today's press release:

...All books will be made available free of charge online, with free downloads, for non-commercial purposes immediately upon publication, using Creative Commons licences. The works will also be sold as books, using the latest short-run technologies or Print on Demand (POD).

The imprint will initially publish in the Social Sciences and Humanities building thematic lists on pressing global issues, with approximately fifty new titles online and in print by the end of 2009....

Bloomsbury Academic...will provide editorial selection, peer-review, copy-editing and formatting, along with marketing and distribution worldwide. Authors will retain their copyright. Authors will also benefit by attracting more readers and gaining greater peer recognition. Their works will come faster to publication, and not be hidebound by long production and promotion cycles. They can be searched more easily, and need never go out of print.

Bloomsbury Academic's Advisory Board is almost complete; the following have agreed to serve on the board:

  • Professor Hal Abelson -Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT
  • Dame Lynne Brindley - CEO British Library
  • Professor Reto Hilty - Director, Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law
  • Professor Robin Mansell - Head of Media and Communications Department, London School of Economics
  • Professor John Naughton - Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology, Open University
  • Shira Perlmutter - Executive Vice-President, IFPI
  • Winston Tabb - Dean of University Libraries, Johns Hopkins University

The Bloomsbury Academic platform will also be available to showcase and promote other publishers' titles. The initiative is not exclusively in the English language and Bloomsbury's German partner, Berlin Verlag, will be participating actively....Bloomsbury [is also] in discussion with Melbourne University Publishing....

Frances Pinter will be Bloomsbury Academic's Publisher, joining Managing Director Jonathan Glasspool. Pinter, who set up her own academic publishing house (Pinter Publishers) at the age of 23, was Publishing Director at the Soros Foundation and has recently been involved in promoting Creative Commons licencing in projects in South Africa and Uganda....

Update.  Also see Adam Hodgkin's comments:

...This could be the best way to publish academic monographs for the rapidly growing global network of universities and scholarly communities....

One senses that some aspects of their business model are not yet fully formed. They mention spending a lot of time with libraries, "exploring how best to serve the academic community". That sounds promising....Value based on service rather than proprietary exploitation of copyright exclusivity....

This may be an even more adventurous and bold model than the PLoS or BioMed Central propositions for scientific periodical publishing. I wonder if Bloomsbury can make it work without adopting the model of collective and open-ended sponsorship which PLoS and BMC are using, and which may be becoming rather indistinguishable from the conventional approach of heavy institutional subscriptions? The boldness of this approach is impressive. Bloomsbury Academic will surely attract important authors. Good news for academic monograph publishing.

Update (9/23/08). Also see Andrew Albanese's story in Library Journal.

Update (9/25/08).  Also see the Bloomsbury press release on its acquisition of Berg Publishers.  Excerpt:

Bloomsbury Publishing...announces that it has entered into an agreement to acquire...Berg Publishers..., an independent academic publishing company with a particular focus on books and journals for the academic student market in the fields of fashion, design and culture studies....

Nigel Newton, Chief Executive of Bloomsbury, said: "The acquisition of Berg is an important element in our strategy to increase our presence in academic publishing and take advantage of a market that is already benefiting from electronic delivery and print-on-demand. The acquisition of...Berg follows Bloomsbury's announcement on September 5th of the launch of Bloomsbury Academic, headed by Frances Pinter, which will publish academic books in the fields of the humanities and social sciences." ...