WP3: Opening the Future

logo for Opening the Future

Opening the Future (OtF) is a collective subscription model that, through its membership scheme, makes library funds go further: achieving the dual objectives of increasing collections and supporting Open Access.

In essence, academic library members sign up to pay a small annual fee to get DRM-free, unlimited access to a selection of a participating publisher’s backlist; the membership revenue is then used by the publisher to produce new frontlist monographs which are openly licensed and openly (freely) accessible to anyone in the world.

diagram illustrating the Opening the Future concept in a nutshell. Icons by Flaticon.com


Frequently Asked Questions

Which publishers are participating?

As of March 2022 there are two publishers running an Opening the Future (OtF) programme: they are Central European University (CEU) Press and Liverpool University Press.

CEU Press is offering backlist titles on the history of communism, transitions to democracy and Central European history and culture; while LUP is offering access to books on hispanic culture, including literature, cinema, popular culture, theory and history. Libraries can see the titles and choose which packages of books would best boost their collections at the following links:

Both publishers have slightly different pricing structures but both offer excellent value for money and extra benefits for members, including KBART and MARC records, and COUNTER compliant statistics.

How do libraries sign up?

Libraries around the world can subscribe to the backlist books by filling in a short form on the participating publisher OtF websites (ceup.openingthefuture.net and lup.openingthefuture.net). Pricing is tiered according to a library’s size and is based on the Jisc and LYRASIS (Carnegie) standard bands. Libraries based in the UK should sign up via the Jisc Licence Subscription Manager.

For both presses invoicing is carried out by LYRASIS in North America, Jisc in the UK, and (for CEUP Press only) Knowledge Unlatched for the rest of the world. Libraries are often already set up with these agencies, so invoicing is painless and slots in neatly to existing acquisition workflows.

When will you make books open access?

As soon as a participating publisher accrues enough revenue from library membership fees, the next book to be published will be OA, as illustrated in the diagram below:

diagram of open access modelling in Opening the Future

Is this like a ‘Read and Publish’ deal, but for books?

No, the model is not based on the support of individual titles. If anything it’s more like a ‘Subscribe to Open’ offer. Participating libraries get unlimited access to curated selections of backlist eBooks at a much cheaper price than buying them in print one at a time. The subscription fees are then used to ‘unlock’ new OA books. It’s that simple. There are no BPCs charged, and authors at participating libraries do not get ‘preferential’ or ‘discounted’ publishing deals: OA books are chosen on merit, through the normal editorial proposal process and are peer reviewed. The cost of producing OA books is paid for by the collected library subscription fees: so the more libraries sign up, the more OA books can be published.

If a library doesn't have a discretionary OA budget, can they still participate?

Yes, absolutely. Funds from any budget are accepted. In fact, we are hoping that as libraries see this to be a cheaper way of building collections they will pay for this type of offer through their acquisitions budgets.

How will the OA books be made available? Where can I find the OA books that have been funded by the programme?

New titles funded by the programme and published open access will be hosted on Project MUSE for CEU Press’s books, and on the LUP website for Liverpool University Press’s books. Additionally they will be downloadable from OAPEN and listed on DOAB. Presses may choose to host their OA books on other sites too in order to ensure the widest possible dissemination. Both publishers support their open access books with MARC records, KBART files, and metadata sharing with major library vendors, to ensure that OA content is widely discoverable through library systems.

Will this scale up? Are more publishers coming on board?

COPIM’s Work Package 3 is documenting everything as it goes and has already freely released the code for the sign up system. We want to see more presses adopt this as a funding model for their OA books. WP3 will produce a toolkit that will help publishers to implement Opening the Future themselves.

Where can I find more information?
  • Martin Eve
  • Tom Grady