Our Business Model

Open Book Publishers is a fully open access (OA) press that does not charge its authors a fee to publish open access (also known as a Book Processing Charge or BPC). We believe that charging authors is an unsustainable and inequitable way to fund open access, so we have developed a mixed business model that does not require such fees.

We are a not-for-profit publisher, so our incomings only need to match our outgoings for us to be sustainable; any surplus goes back into the business and enables us to publish more books.

Finally, OBP has a publishing arm and a research and development (R&D) arm. All our R&D work is grant funded, and therefore financially separate from our publishing arm. We focus our R&D efforts on open source projects that contribute to the wider OA book ecosystem, developing tools and infrastructures that other presses can freely use to publish OA books. Our intention is to help lower the barriers so that more presses can publish OA without charging author fees. This is part of the 'scaling small' approach we have adopted.

Publishing costs

We publish between 40-50 books per year. Our average costs per title are as follows:

Final proofreading£1,500
Typesetting£900
Cover design£150
Generating digital editions & website maintenance£250
Distribution and retailing£200
Marketing£500
Overheads (office rent, utility bills, and general administration)£1,500
Total£5,000

Publishing revenue

A number of revenue streams cover our costs. The figures below are from our most recent complete financial year (2020-2021):

OBP revenue 20-21.jpg

Sales: All our books are available to buy in paperback, hardback, EPUB and MOBI/AZW3 at modest prices, as well as being freely available in HTML, PDF and XML formats from the date of publication.

Grants and donations: We ask authors, if they are able, to apply for grant funding to defray the costs of publishing their book. This helps us to publish more books by authors who have no funding. Publishing decisions are made on the basis of peer review only: funding does not guarantee publication and we publish many books without any funding attached. We also receive grants and donations as a press, unattached to a particular book. Many individuals donate to us to support our work: please join them if you wish!

Library Membership: our Library Membership programme has grown from strength to strength since its beginnings in 2015, and we now have over 200 library members from all over the world. Member libraries pay an annual contribution to the press in exchange for various benefits and to support our work. Find out more and become a Library Member.

Non-standard production charges: we charge a small fee for non-standard tasks. Find out more information about our non-standard production charges.

Research and development

In 2020-2021 we received £182,967 in grant funding for our R&D work. Our outputs include developing the metadata management system Thoth as part of the COPIM project, which now handles all our metadata and underlies our book catalogue. We have also developed this website, which is an open source white label site that other publishers can adopt for their own operations.

Our financial figures

You can view our company accounts at Companies House.

For a more in-depth discussion of our business model based on our figures from the 2019-2020 financial year, read this case study. It is part of a compendium of business model case studies from a range of OA book publishers that is available to view. You can also read this blog post that examines our model using figures from 2018-2019.

If you would like to support our work and enable us to publish more OA books without charging authors, you can do so via our donations page.