JSTOR, part of the non-profit ITHAKA, announced today the release of the first books in Path to Open, a new program designed to affordably and sustainably support the open access publication of new groundbreaking books in the humanities and social sciences.

Launched as a pilot in January 2023, Path to Open is a delayed open access model where new books are made available to supporting libraries upon publication and become open access after three years. Thirty-seven university presses have joined the initiative along with over sixty academic libraries, including consortia like the Big Ten Academic Alliance who are looking to develop sustainable open access solutions.

“Presses and libraries are deeply aligned in our desire to nurture a bibliodiverse, robust scholarly publishing ecosystem that supports authors as well as the faculty and student researchers who benefit from access to their research,” said Charles Watkinson, Director of The University of Michigan Press and 2022-2023 President of the Association of University of Presses. “Path to Open is showing real promise as a new way to do this that is impactful and financially sustainable for everyone involved, including the many great smaller university presses.”

JSTOR recently released forty-three of the first 100 Path to Open titles. These books, all peer-reviewed, were selected by the participating university presses and JSTOR, and explore topics in thirty-six subjects like Public Health, Religion, Education, Communications, Literature, Conflict Resolution, and Film Studies. They strengthen bibliodiversity by focusing on research from diverse perspectives that use a range of methodologies and that may be international, national, or local in focus. Among the titles selected for Path to Open this year are books like:

JSTOR will be reporting on the usage of Path to Open books before and after becoming open access. The titles, accessible to Path to Open libraries today, are in high-use disciplines for JSTOR and are searchable alongside journals, other books, and primary sources. When the books become open access after three years, usage is expected to increase. In the past, books that have transitioned from licensed to open on JSTOR have experienced 5,500% increases.

“The conventional wisdom has been that the humanities monograph is in permanent decline,” said John Sherer, Spangler Family Director of the University of North Carolina Press. “But OA experiments have shown that usage can increase exponentially. It’s becoming clear that it’s more likely the traditional business model that is in decline. Path to Open is the first sustainable OA program I’ve seen that has the potential to scale and include scores of publishers producing thousands of high-quality works of scholarship.”

Authors agree with the promise of open access. “I think that OA is the path of the future for sharing scholarly publications in my field,” said James A. Anderson, Associate Professor in the Department of History at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and author of the forthcoming The Dong World and Imperial China’s Southwest Silk Road: Trade, Security, and State Formation.

Kicking off Path to Open with 100 titles in 2023, JSTOR will work with participating presses and their authors to release 300 books each year in 2024 and 2025. “We’re excited to hit this important early milestone,” said John Lenahan, VP of Licensed Content for JSTOR. “Releasing the first books brings heightened visibility to the incredible research being done by these authors, delivers new perspectives and insights to faculty and students through Path to Open libraries, and ensures these works will be open for everyone to use in the future in a way that we and our Path to Open partners believe is financially sustainable.”

Libraries and publishers are encouraged to learn more about how to join Path to Open, including the new ability for libraries to sign up through GOBI Library Solutions.

JSTOR is a mission-driven, nonprofit digital library. We strengthen the depth and quality of research by bringing together journals, books, images, and primary sources on a platform with unique tools for teaching and exploration. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve access to knowledge and education for people around the world.

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