Posted by: bluesyemre | July 21, 2021

#OpenAccess Books

This month we look at the growth of Open Access Books. We look at some key statistics from the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) and examine the rapid growth in OA Books.


The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) was originally developed in 2012. It is one of three platforms run by the Netherlands-based OAPEN Foundation and France’s OpenEdition. OAPEN provides infrastructure for OA books and promotes their awareness and discovery. It was originally an EU-funded project and became a foundation in 2010.

OAPEN’s other two platforms include the OAPEN Library OA book repository, and the OAPEN Open Access Books Toolkit for authors. The DOAB covers a superset of books in the OAPEN Library, so we use its data for the most comprehensive coverage. The DOAB focuses on academic books, which must be made available under an open access licence and be subjected to independent and external peer review prior to publication.

Growth of the DOAB

We first analyzed the total number of titles in the DOAB and their licenses, as shown in Figure 1, below. Figures for 2021 are YTD to end of June 2021; all other numbers are full year.

Source: DOAB, Delta Think Analysis.

We can see that the DOAB now indexes over 30,000 titles.

  • The charts show the cumulative number of titles growing over time.
  • License proportions are largely consistent over time.
  • Just over 71% of titles use CC licenses.
  • CC BY-NC-ND licenses are the most common (32% of the index).
  • CC BY licenses are the second-most common (24% of the index).
  • The numbers above do not include the circa 5,000 titles with submission dates unspecified in the publicly available data. (At the time of writing – July 2021 – the team at the DOAB are working on a fix.) We have excluded these titles from the chart above. Subscribers to our OA Data and Analytics Tool will be able to see the updated figures when they are released by the DOAB.
  • Submissions for 2010 and 2011 were imported from an OAPEN service set up in 2010.

Make-up of the DOAB

The overall proportions of licenses in use by the index remain fairly constant over time. However, within the averages we see some interesting things depending on language and publisher.

The figure above shows how the different languages making up the index relate to license types. Each horizontal bar represents a license. The colors show how the titles under each license are split between languages.

  • Overall (the top bar), English is the most common language covering 55.5% of the index with German second (17.4%) and French third (15%). The remaining 12.1% of titles are split between around 40 languages in total. The most prevalent licenses are shown above; the rest form a long tail.
  • English accounts for 72.6% of CC BY and 78.2% of CC BY-NC licensed books.
  • Compare this with German, which accounts for 60.7% of CC BY-SA and 50.1% of CC BY-ND.
  • French covers the largest share (53.3%) of non-CC or unspecified licenses.

The figure above looks at how the largest publishers contribute to the index, and their preferred licenses. Each horizontal bar represents a license. The colors show how the titles under each license are split between publishers. The length of the bars show the total # titles in the index, so you can see the relative weight of each.

  • The 10 largest publishers together account 47.9% of the index (top bar). Another 460 or so publishers make up the remaining 52.1% of the titles.
  • The largest publishers are now IntechOpen (13.2% of titles), MDPI (6.8%), then de Gruyter, Peter Lang and Springer Nature (ranging from 4.7% to 4.5%).
  • Most publishers favor CC BY or CC BY-NC-ND licenses. CC BY is the most common for the majority. However, note that MDPI publishes more under NC-ND than BY.

The underlying data (not shown here) reveal historical patterns in publishers’ growth. 2019’s figures were boosted by IntechOpen, KIT Scientific, and Peter Lang International adding significant numbers of titles. Before 2015, the current top 10 publishers accounted for only around 10% of the index.


The DOAB has seen explosive growth over the last few years. Over the 3 years to 2020, its CAGR was 53%, compared with 14% for OA journal articles. (5-year CAGRs to 2020 are 60% for the DOAB and 15% for journals).

Although some of this is likely a result of the infrastructure becoming more widely adopted, it’s clear that OA books are gaining traction. Growth is driven by larger organizations coming on board, plus a growing long tail of publishers joining OAPEN. The likes of Springer Nature, De Gruyter, KIT, and T&F have been longstanding contributors to the index.

The explosive growth of books should also be put in the context of “high growth from a low starting point”. Absent a definitive index of academic books, we sampled data from a few publishers. The results suggest that barely 1% of their output is in the DOAB on average. So, as with journal article output, we may see growth rates start to fall towards a steady state after the initial cohort of titles is made open.

Comparing patterns in books with those in journals shows that there is a similar level of consolidation in the market. The 10 largest publishers account for around 50% of both books and journal output. License usage, however, appears to be different for books: CC BY-NC-ND appears to be far more prevalent in books compared with journals. Books are different beasts to journals, so it’s likely that authors and publishers want greater restrictions intended to “protect” long form scholarship, which is so central to tenure and promotion in Humanities and Social Sciences and also to afford greater commercial opportunities around print and other formats.

With so many unknowns in the current data set we will need to wait for updates to complete a full analysis. We will run further analysis as more data become available to us.

This article is © 2021 Delta Think, Inc. It is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please do get in touch if you want to use it in other contexts – we’re usually pretty accommodating.


EIFL agreements result in increased OA publishing – July 8, 2021

“Romy Beard, EIFL Licensing Programme Manager, analyses the amount of research published in open access in 2020 by authors from EIFL partner countries, to find out if EIFL-negotiated agreements are making a difference.”

Researchers from low-income countries to benefit from APC-free OA publishing in all IOP Publishing journals – July 6, 2021

“Researchers from low-income countries can now publish open access (OA) for free in any IOP Publishing (IOPP) fully OA or hybrid OA journal. Article publication charges (APCs) will be automatically waived for researchers from countries defined as low-income by the World Bank, with no need for the author to request a waiver.”

Introducing a new OA pilot: Flip it Open – June 30, 2021

“A new Open Access pilot scheme from Cambridge University Press will turn conventional publishing models on their head by making academic monographs that sell the most copies available online for free. The initiative, called Flip it Open, will see selected books published and sold as normal, primarily through library collections for universities. But once a title meets a set amount of revenue, the Press has committed to make it freely available online.”

AAAS Plan S Compliance Policy: Staying Committed to Subscriptions – June 28, 2021

“Back in January, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced a pilot to allow authors funded by cOAlition S organizations that have adopted the Plan S Rights Retention Strategy to place a CC BY or a CC BY-ND license on their accepted manuscripts and to share them without embargo…”

NorthEast Research Libraries and Center for Research Libraries join growing movement to support Directory of Open Access Journals in the USA – June 24, 2021

“The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is delighted to be entering into a new agreement with the NorthEast Research Libraries Consortium (NERL) and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) in the United States. The arrangement will allow for greater support to DOAJ from the more than 300 members of the two consortia.”

The Microbiology Society: Increasing transparency and openness – June 18, 2021

“The Microbiology Society is pleased to announce three new initiatives that provide article-level metrics of all Open Access (OA) articles published by the Society’s six journals. Using these routes, the Society is rising to the challenge of providing the data to stakeholders, when, where and however they need, be they Open Access (OA) managers, librarians, consortia managers, funders, those with Publish and Read transformative agreements, those subscribing institutions considering converting and those with articles paid by an APC.”


July 13, 2021Emerald Publishing collaborates with the China Centre for Internet Economy Research to launch new open access journal“Emerald Publishing has collaborated with the China Centre for Internet Economy (CCIE) Research to launch the Journal of Internet and Digital Economics. The journal is dedicated to become the first comprehensive open-access economic journal focusing on the basic theories, empirical applications, and policy implications of internet and digital economics, an emerging field of economics that has been expanding rapidly since the late twentieth century.”
July 1, 2021Oxford University Press launches Oxford Open Economics, the latest in the Oxford Open journal series“Oxford University Press has today announced the launch of Oxford Open Economics, the fifth title in its flagship Oxford Open journal series. Oxford Open Economics is a fully open access journal publishing research covering all areas of economics, including theoretical, empirical, applied and policy-oriented work, and extending from macroeconomics through microeconomics and all relevant fields.”
July 1, 2021Coming Soon: Gastro Hep AdvancesGastro Hep Advances is the newest peer-reviewed journal published by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)…Gastro Hep Advances is a broad-scope, online-only, open access journal that publishes papers on basic, clinical and translational gastroenterology and hepatology. The open access model enables authors with funding mandates to have a high-quality home for their research.”
June 25, 2021Journal of Refractive Surgery Case Reports launches inaugural issue“SLACK Incorporated is pleased to announce the official launch of the new digital, open-access journal, Journal of Refractive Surgery Case Reports (JRS Case Reports). Edited by J. Bradley Randleman, MD, the quarterly, peer-reviewed Journal will include high-quality case reports that focus on research as related to the clinical practice of refractive surgery and lens-based procedures.”
June 23, 2021IOP Publishing and the Songshan Lake Materials Laboratory launch open access journal – Materials Futures“IOP Publishing and the Songshan Lake Materials Laboratory (SLAB), in affiliation with the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Science, are launching a new open access journal covering all areas of basic and applied materials science and technology.”
June 17, 2021SLAS Announces Open Access Journal Publishing with Elsevier in 2022“The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) is pleased to announce the transition of SLAS Discovery and SLAS Technology to a Gold Open Access publishing model as of January 1, 2022. SLAS will partner with Elsevier, which will make both journals available through its online platform, ScienceDirect, in turn, making articles instantly and easily accessible to scientific audiences worldwide.”

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