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The future of scholarly books is open (access)

A global Springer Nature survey of more than 2,500 academic book authors provides in-depth insights into perceptions of open access (OA) | Conclusions and recommendations to further increase take-up of OA books

London | Berlin, 19 June 2019

Cover: The Future of Open Access Books © Springer NatureThe majority of book authors support the idea that all future scholarly books should be open access (OA). This is one of the key findings of a new white paper presented by Springer Nature at the OAI-11 conference at CERN this week. Based on the responses of 2,542 book authors who were surveyed by Springer Nature in February and March 2019, the white paper provides a global view of book authors’ attitudes towards OA. The survey looks at researchers’ motivations for publishing a book, and analyses the parameters and key drivers which influence academics to publish OA or not. The white paper also identifies major obstacles to OA publication which book authors still face: from a lack of awareness of OA publishing options and low funding, to concerns about how OA books are perceived. The white paper is freely available for download. 

Other key findings include:
•    Pro-OA attitudes are stronger among junior researchers, researchers based in Europe and Asia, and previous OA book authors
•    Ethical reasons (equality in access) and reaching a larger audience are identified as key motivations for choosing OA for books
•    The majority of authors want more financial support from funders for OA book publication
•    Gold OA is the most preferred policy for OA books
•    Reputation of publishers matters less to OA authors but is still the deciding factor for publication.

The findings reflect the views of OA and non-OA book authors alike: out of the 2,542 participants, 407 authors had previously published at least one OA book, 2,037 authors had not published an OA book, and 98 authors did not know whether they had published an OA book previously. 

“We launched a dedicated OA book publication programme in 2012, and have been pioneers in open access, opening up robust research to the widest possible audience,” said Niels Peter Thomas, Managing Director Books, Springer Nature. 

“The results of our survey clearly indicate that reaching a large audience and fostering interdisciplinary conversations about their work are the two things authors most hope to achieve when writing books. Offering authors the option to publish their books open access at Springer Nature is a sustainable way to advance discovery by helping book authors increase readership and awareness for their books.”

“We are delighted about the meaningful results from our survey, as they reflect a largely positive perception of OA books among both OA and non-OA book authors. The findings seem to indicate a high level of satisfaction and continued engagement with OA from existing OA book authors,” said Ros Pyne, Director Open Access Books at Springer Nature. 

“Overall, the survey results point to a promising future for OA books in scholarly publishing, and they will also serve to inform ongoing developments of our OA book programme, helping us to ensure that any future initiatives are mindful of the needs and priorities of book authors. However, if we are to increase take-up of OA books, more needs to be done to convince book authors and funders about the opportunities and benefits of OA in scholarly publishing.”

The results also show that the lack of funding still seems to be a major barrier for book authors who want to publish OA. The white paper therefore advocates for funders to provide more support for OA books, and also recommends that the scholarly communications community explores a variety of alternative routes for OA book publishing.

Image: Cover: The Future of Open Access Books | © Springer Nature

About open access books at Springer Nature

Springer Nature is a pioneer in open access book publishing through its imprints SpringerOpen and Palgrave Macmillan. We first launched a dedicated OA book publication programme in 2012. The open access book portfolio currently includes over 750 books spanning all academic disciplines, and by 2018, over 30 million chapters had been downloaded by readers worldwide.  Follow @SN_OAbooks to keep up-to-date with OA book news.

About Springer Nature

Springer Nature is a leading research, educational and professional publisher, providing quality content to our communities through a range of innovative platforms, products and services. Every day, around the globe, our imprints, books, journals and resources reach millions of people – helping researchers, students, teachers and professionals to discover, learn and achieve more. Through our family of brands, we aim to serve and support the research, education and professional communities by putting them at the heart of all we do, delivering the highest possible standards in content and technology, and helping shape the future of publishing for their benefit and for society overall. Visit: and follow @SpringerNature.

Further Information

•    Download the white paper The future of open access books: Findings from a global survey of academic book authors for free:
•    More information on Springer Nature’s open access books programme:    
•    More information on Springer Nature’s approach to open research: 
•    Complete list of open access books on SpringerLink:


Renate Bayaz  | Springer Nature | Communications
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