Kudos to Cornell University for the launch of the Open Access University Press. University press-type books will be made freely available on line, and can be purchased through on-demand publishing. This leverages technology to perform the function university presses were always intended to achieve – making high-quality academic information available to the people who need it. Unlike commercial publishing, most university press publishing is primarily about getting the work out there to the tiny, non-profitable audience that needs it. This has the potential to do that.
Books published by academic university presses tend to have a narrow audience. Interestingly, in the Internet-First model, authors do not receive advance royalties, but are paid when each print on- demand copy is ordered. “Faculty members value having their scholarship read, and the Open Access approach provides immediate, worldwide access,” says Cooke. “Our first authors are all distinguished faculty with no need to build up their r?sum?s. They have no pressing financial need or were smart enough to know they weren’t going to get much money anyway.”
It’s hard to imagine a very large audience for the Cornell Guide to Growing Fruit at Home, but that’s the whole point, eh?