The number of peer reviewed academic books published in an Open Access model has grown strongly over the past few years. In this article, we summarise what the research says about the major benefits of publishing academic books as Open Access.

Higher usage

Recent research by Neylon et al (2021) looked into the differences in usage between peer reviewed Open Access books and non-Open Access (non-OA) books over a three year period from publication. It found that peer reviewed Open Access (OA) books are downloaded ten times more on average than non-OA books during the three years from publication. And Open Access books also had more downloads in every month after publication. This was found to be true for all subject areas and all types of academic book, with Open Access books being downloaded at least 2.7 times more than non-OA books. Open Access books also received twice as many citations as non-OA books, which shows that they were more heavily used by academic researchers. As well as downloads and citations, there were also a higher number of websites referencing Open Access books. Readers are more willing to refer to and share links to books that other people can access freely, and this helps to increase usage.

Broader usage

Open Access books also get broader usage. The research by Neylon et al (2021) shows that Open Access books reach readers in 61% more countries than non-OA books. Also, a greater share of their usage comes from low- and middle-income countries, and from institutions in the Global South. Publishing Open Access is particularly important if you want your academic book to be available to researchers in many parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East where libraries do not always have the funds to purchase non-OA books.

As well as having an academic audience, Open Access books are more likely to be read by industry, policymakers and government, and the public. Many of these groups can benefit from access to research findings or from working more closely with academic researchers. Snijder (2019) found that as much as 45% of the usage of Open Access books comes from outside of academic institutions. By reaching key audiences that might not otherwise have access, Open Access can increase the awareness of, and potentially the impact from a book. This can also lead to increased opportunities for collaboration.

Compliance and control

When a book is published Open Access, it can immediately comply with any mandates that require research to be made available Open Access. Authors also retain copyright to the book, so the book or parts of it can be used elsewhere. It can be used as part of a university course teaching pack, figures and extracts can be re-used elsewhere, it can be translated into a different language, and it can be updated at a later date. The book can be shared without restriction, which helps to maximise its impact.

In summary, publishing a book in Open Access results in higher and wider usage, making the book truly accessible on a global level. For authors or editors interested in maximising the impact of an academic book which hasn’t been published yet, Sciendo can help! We publish peer reviewed monographs, textbooks, edited volumes and much more. And we provide a wide array of services from professional book editing through pre-press production and printing to marketing and PR. Find out more here.