Open Access Week Musings

This week is #OpenAccessWeek which is one of those fake holidays like Halloween or University Educators Day. But like those other two celebrations, this week has a beneficial goal (as well as supporting a growing number of Open Access Week cards and gift): to promote open access publishing.

OpenAccessWeek logo

This week also marked the release of the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota’s newest book: Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future: The Potential of Digital Archaeology. If you haven’t checked it out yet… why not?

With about 3 days under our belt, I can report on some of the early statistics for the book. So far, we’ve had just under 550 downloads of the book or parts of the book. 53% of those downloads were of the entire book, and no other chapter really set itself apart as the leading individual chapter download. Contributors have started to post their contributions and the entire book onto their Academia.edu pages and institutional repositories. So my numbers will only reflects the most centralized points of distribution. The real circulation takes place far from the center. There are no originals! 

We’ve sold a handful of paper copies, but the real circulation impact will likely come from digital downloads. And that’s fine with me, but I do wonder whether this book will lag in paper sales compared to downloads. Punk Archaeology, for example, which has well over 2000 downloads, has never sold more than handful of copies (52, to be exact). In contrast, The War with the Sioux, has had about 900 downloads and sold 232 copies. The Bakken Goes Boom has had about 1000 downloads and has sold 115 paper copies. We were particularly excited to see it appear on the Standing Rock Syllabus project and hope that its open access status makes it useful to folks on the front line of the Dakota Access Pipeline debate. What’s interesting is that Punk Archaeology – perhaps anticipating Mobilizing the Past – has been cited more times and more widely than my first official monograph which appeared in the same year, Pyla-Koutsopetria I: An Archaeological Survey of an Ancient Coastal Town (2014). This is despite PKAP I appearing in almost 70 academic libraries and Punk Archaeology appearing in … like 4. I’m sure that over time, this will level out, but considering Punk Archaeology was published as the first book from a new press, I think this speaks to the potential of open access scholarship to reach new audiences quickly.

As we look ahead to the next year with The Digital Press, we are making plans to continue our open access and digital trajectories with both new “conventional books” but also some interactive or serialized works that develop as conversations over time and then crystalize – to some extent – into a formal volume later before once again heading off into the world under an open license (CC-By 4.0). So stay tuned! 

 

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