Open Access (the book)

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  • On this page I'll post updates and other notes on my book, Open Access, MIT Press, 2012.   —Peter Suber.

About the book

  • The Kindle edition is available now. Digital editions in a dozen other formats will roll out over the summer.
  • Sorry, I don't control review copies. To get a review copy, contact MIT Press.
  • I plan to launch some kind of site, other than this page, where I can gather and respond to reader comments. I welcome suggestions about the best way to do that. Meantime, I welcome comments on the book itself.


  • In this section, I'll post updates to the text. Some didn't fit into the book because the book is deliberately short and I was already over my wordcount. Some couldn't appear in the book because they were not published until after my text was final in the spring of 2011.


Chapter 1: What is Open Access?

Chapter 2: Motivation

  • Note 5 (note call on p. 30, note text on p. 182). Here I'm documenting the claim that "cumulative price increases...forced the Harvard Library to undertake 'serious cancellation efforts' for budgetary reasons." In the current note, I cite two sources. Here are six, including the original two, in chronological order.
    • Interview with Stuart Shieber after the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted unanimously for a green OA policy, April 12, 2008: "At Harvard, serials duplication has been all but eliminated and serious cancellation efforts have been initiated. Monograph collecting has been substantially affected as well. In total, our faculty have seen qualitative reductions in access to the literature." From Robin Peek, "Harvard Faculty Mandates OA," Information Today, April 1, 2008. The original URL is dead, but this one is alive:
    • The Report of the Task Force on University Libraries, Harvard University, November 2009: "Even during the recent years of endowment growth, the libraries struggled to collect the books, journals, and other research materials desired by current faculty and students....The reasons for these difficulties are multiple, but include the steadily rising prices of monographs and journal subscriptions....The economic downturn has made this issue even more critical than in years prior. Because library budgets have been cut, journals will need to be cancelled, with attendant cancellation fees feeding a downward spiral....Harvard must become a more forceful participant in this negotiation, leverage its combined rather than distributed weight, and not be beholden to the prices and packages determined by the major publishing houses."

    • "Libraries on the Edge," The Harvard Gazette, January 2010. "Through centuries, Harvard's libraries have amassed rich collections and unique holdings. But now budgetary pressures that have been building during the past decade, and intensified in the past year, threaten the ability of the world's largest private library to collect works as broadly as it has in the past. In an interview, University Library director and Pforzheimer University Professor Robert Darnton called the situation 'a crisis in acquisitions.' "

    • Harvard's response to the first White House RFI on OA, January 22, 2010: "Harvard not immune to the access crisis that motivates much of the campaign for public-access policies. In fact, the Harvard library system has gone through a series of serials reviews with substantial cancellations, and further cancellations will undoubtedly occur in the future."

    • Harvard's response to the second White House RFI on OA, January 14, 2012: "Even Harvard University, whose library is the largest academic library in the world, is not immune to the access crisis motivating much of the campaign for public-access policies. In fact, the Harvard library system has had to make a painful series of budget-driven journal cancellations, and we are deciding on a set of further cancellations at this very moment."

    • Testimony of Stuart Shieber, Professor of Computer Science and Director of Harvard's Office for Scholarly Communication, before the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, March 29, 2012: "The Harvard library system is the largest academic library in the world, and the fifth largest library of any sort. In attempting to provide access to research results to our faculty and students, the university subscribes to tens of thousands of serials at a cost of about 9 million dollars per year. Nonetheless, we too have been buffeted by the tremendous growth in journal costs over the last decades, with Harvard's serials expenditures growing by a factor of 3 between 1986 and 2004. Such geometric increases in expenditures could not be sustained indefinitely. Over the years since 2004 our journal expenditure increases have been curtailed through an aggressive effort at deduplication, elimination of print subscriptions, and a painful series of journal cancellations. As a researcher, I know that Harvard does not subscribe to all of the journals that I would like access to for my own research, and if Harvard, with its scale, cannot provide optimal subscription access, other universities without our resources are in an even more restricted position."

Chapter 3: Varieties

Chapter 4: Policies

Chapter 5: Scope

Chapter 6: Copyright

Chapter 7: Economics

Chapter 8: Casualties

Chapter 9: Future

Chapter 10: Self-Help