Open Access rocks – How Change Happens is four years old this week and OA has made all the difference

October 22, 2020

     By Duncan Green     

It’s Open Access Week this week (what, you’d missed it?), which I generally use as an excuse to do my annual round-up of stats on How Change Happens, and make the case for OA books, not just journals.

Bit of background. The book was published by OUP in October 2016. We negotiated open access from day one (download it here). In return waived royalties to compensate the publisher for lost sales. At the time, OA on books was a bit of an experiment, so kudos to OUP. Since then, it’s become more widespread, with publishers charging authors (or their institutions) to go open access, as happens with journal articles.

Here are the headlines:

Hard copies of HCH sold in the first couple of years, but then pretty much faded out

Online was a very different story – pdf downloads have risen steadily, but online readers have been the big hit, rising fast all the way to year 3. Although it looks like they peaked in year 3 and are now falling back, there’s a bit of confusion over the overlap between the last two years, and 2020 isn’t over yet of course (the stats are for calendar years)

Overall, in the first four years the ratio of hard copies to pdfs to online reads was 1:5:15. In real numbers, the book sold 10,000 copies, 50,000 people have downloaded the pdf, and 150,000 have read anything from a paragraph to the whole thing online.

Total readers = 211,000

How Changes Happens stats

I would say 10,000 is a reasonable sales figure for OUP, so they didn’t lose out too much. From my/Oxfam’s point of view, Open Access has been brilliant – it gives the book a much longer shelf life and allows people in any place with decent internet to access the book.

Exec Sum: Viva Open Access!

For a more detailed discussion of OA in books v journals, check out my post from this time last year. Here’s the two year report-back (total readers have trebled since then, thanks to OA). And here’s the first OA discussion, on publication day, along with a truly appalling alternative cover which FP2P readers wisely rejected.

Given that HCH is now 4 years old, this may be the last such exercise – even my authorial self-obsession has its limits…..

October 22, 2020
Duncan Green