Opening the Future is a collective subscription model for OA books. Libraries can sign up for its membership scheme, which implies that they grow their collections and support Open Access at the same time. The objective is to raise small contributions from a large number of academic libraries, so that no single institution bears a disproportionate burden.
How does it work?
A library subscribes to a backlist package of non-OA books offered by a publisher. The publisher makes this backlist package of non-OA books available to subscribers only (in other words: books in this package remain non-OA), but uses the subscription money to publish new books in OA. These new books are thus made available to everyone in OA, benefitting scholars and institutions around the world.
How it started and how it’s going
Opening the Future was launched by the COPIM project: an international partnership of researchers, universities, librarians, open access book publishers and infrastructure providers supported by the Research England Development Fund (REDFund) as a major development project in the Higher Education sector with significant public benefits, and by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The Central European Press (CEP) piloted this model and was recently joined by the Liverpool University Press. Both programs are funded by KU Leuven: membership for the CEP program is financed by KU Leuven Libraries Artes, whereas membership for The Liverpool University Press program is funded via the KU Leuven Fund for Fair OA.
In June 2021 it was announced that Opening the Future has been shortlisted as a finalist for an ALPSP Award for Innovation in Publishing. ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers) is the international trade association which represents non-profit scholarly publishing. The winner of the award will be announced during their annual conference on 15-17 September.