“Pressure from all sides of the ecosystem has propelled growth, experimentation, and commitment to making more scholarship accessible to more people. There is increased awareness, too, that making research open does not resolve all issues of equity and access to knowledge, that more critical engagement with the moral economy of open access is still to come. Living in a pandemic has accelerated the momentum and heightened the sense of urgency, not only in discourse, but in concrete steps being taken and strategies developed by institutions and publishers alike. Libraries, scholars, students, and readers of all kinds have had to move rapidly to adopt and adapt digital resources and tools. Open access books offer increased access to knowledge for the reader, but they also present an opportunity to remake a fragmented ecosystem, and to increase channels of communication about the processes involved in researching, writing, shepherding, financing, publishing, acquiring, and reading research….
Digital books, open or not, require infrastructure. Disintermediating hosting, distribution, and sales helps simplify cost structures. Non-profit presses are developing their own infrastructure to support greater strategic choice. Fulcrum, from Michigan Publishing, and Manifold, from the University of Minnesota Press, are two such developments that expand the new universe of values-aligned platforms. The MIT Press Direct platform launched in 2019 in an effort to disintermediate the relationship between the press and libraries. The platform aligns ebook distribution with the university press mission and opens space for dialogue with libraries. The greater connection with libraries has confirmed a gap in knowledge sharing between librarians, editors, library sales, and authors that, when filled, could make the monograph publication process clearer. Each stakeholder, internal and external to a press, holds valuable information about open access book development, funding, hosting, and discovery. Creating channels to share this information, and doing so through new, collective models, has the potential to benefit the system as a whole….”