Cambridge to trial crowdfunding open access book

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Cambridge University Press (CUP) is launching a crowdfunding campaign to publish a book under the open access model.

CUP has teamed up with the book site Unbound to determine whether crowdfunding can support making selected titles open access – free to read online by anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world.

The move is a first for both partners – for CUP it’s the first time it has tried to crowdfund a book, while for Unbound it is the first time the company has worked with an academic publisher.

The book – The Case for Scottish Independence by Ben Jackson – will be published next year. The three-month crowdfunding campaign will cover the costs of making it available online and open access.

If the campaign’s target is reached, everyone who pledged will get a copy of the book and have their names listed in the back. A range of other rewards will be on offer to backers, including a chance to have dinner with the author.

Ben Denne, director of publishing for CUP's academic books, said: 'As a university press we welcome and support the goals of open research – to increase collaboration and to improve the accessibility, efficiency and impact of research. The challenge is to do so in a way that allows us to continue investing in high quality content.

'The open access movement started with academic research journals, and books are still catching up. We are excited by the potential of open access publishing to reach wide audiences and determined to find sustainable ways to publish more of our books open access.

'Of course, the nature of the internet means pretty much anyone can now put content online themselves, but you then lose the huge benefits of curated, high quality content that comes from publishers’ rigorous approach to content selection, enhancement and production.'

Mathew Clayton, head of publishing at Unbound, said: 'This feels like a ground-breaking moment – using Unbound’s platform to help increase open access in academic publishing would dramatically shift the way things have previously worked. We are really delighted to be partnering with Cambridge University Press in this bold experiment.

The book argues that the roots of Scottish nationalism lie in the decades after the 1960s and not in the distant past of the Acts of Union or the Scottish Enlightenment. It offers a fresh, original and up to date examination of the politics of Scottish nationalism, written in a readable style for students, researchers, politicians and anyone else interested in modern Scottish identity and politics.

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