Demystifying the publishing process: What value do open access book publishers add? Part 1

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Fri May 7 2021

Author: Guest contributor

Academic publishers provide a range of services to authors who are looking to publish a book, whether for sharing their results with the research community, for career advancement, to cement their legacy, to fulfil funder requirements or another reason. But why involve a publisher if book authors want to publish their work online? Why not just self-publish?

Written by Christina Emery - with thanks to contributions from our open access editorial champions.

This two-part blog looks at the value that publishers add for open access book authors, focusing on Springer Nature’s imprints, Palgrave Macmillan, Springer and Apress, all of which offer open access options for books. Find part 2 of this blog here.

For a more detailed look at all of the services and functions that publishers generally undertake, you could refer to Kent Anderson’s blog for The Scholarly Kitchen, where he lists 102 things that journal publishers do, and Richard Fisher’s blog, where he discusses the role of academic publishers.

How do authors choose a publisher?

As a book author, you might carefully choose your publisher based on a range of criteria including reputation of the publisher and their prestigious author list, recommendations from peers, whether there is a suitable book series, and the reach of that publisher to connect your work to relevant communities. If you are publishing an open access book, these criteria might change, as you might need to find funding for an open access fee, or book processing charge, leading to questions such as “what will the publisher be doing for me and my research?”

How do open access books work?

An open access book is a peer-reviewed eBook that can be read or downloaded by anyone, anywhere, immediately upon publication without needing to pay or log in. Authors must be acknowledged, and a Creative Commons (CC) licence indicates how the research can be shared, reused and built upon. Our authors retain copyright and we also provide a print copy of the eBook for purchase.

At Springer Nature there is a book processing charge (BPC) for open access books, which covers all the costs of commissioning, arranging peer review, copyediting and proofreading, production, dissemination and promotion of our authors’ work, including online hosting and indexing. The charge also reflects our use of the most open and ‘gold standard’ licence; CC BY 4.0, which means that we may not make any further revenues from the title through its online access. The BPC is typically funded by the author’s funder or institution (read our blog on tips for finding BPC funding). This model allows for the permanent and unrestricted distribution of research in a sustainable way.

Quality assurance

If you need just one reason to publish your open access book through a reputable publisher rather than self-publish, then quality assurance is your answer.

Readers need a guarantee that the scientific developments and research theories presented are sound science and high quality content. Our open access books are therefore rigorously peer-reviewed as an integral part of the submission and evaluation process. The peer review system ensures that published research is authoritative and meets the international standards set by each discipline. We engage in a collaborative refereeing process for all of our books including open access titles, and peer reviewers are not informed whether the book will be published open access.

Abstracting and indexing services also boost quality assurance; the Directory of Open Access Books (a discovery service that indexes open access books) requires that all listed academic open access books are subjected to independent and external peer review prior to publication.

Our authors also have the opportunity to publish in book series that are indexed in reputed databases like Scopus.

A world-class editorial experience

Our experienced and dedicated editorial team provides an attentive and personal editorial experience to authors with guidance and support throughout the writing process, from the proposal to the final product.

“I felt very supported by the team and the valuable feedback I received at every stage of the publishing process made a very positive impact on the publication.”
- Springer Nature book author survey response

Editors help to shape the book content for the market from the outset, providing invaluable advice. You will work closely with an editor in your field to refine your proposal, both before and after the peer review feedback. You might be interested in publishing in one of our book series; your editor can advise on the best fit and will pitch your book to the series editor on your behalf. Editors also work closely with our dedicated open access support team, helping to identify funding opportunities and navigate institutional requirements.

Molly Beck, Senior Editor at Palgrave Macmillan, shares why our partnership with authors is so important:

“Whether you’re looking to publish your first book or you’re a seasoned author, your editor is here to support you from proposal to publication. I love working with authors to develop their books from the germ of an idea to an expertly researched work that will advance their field and even change the world.”

Publisher prestige

We are proud of our publishing heritage and reputation, and both authors and readers can feel confident in the high quality of our books. Indeed, prestige is important in the world of open access publishing, as there has been an unfortunate rise in ‘predatory publishers’ who charge fees without delivering the promised services. Reputable publishers are well-known and recognised by online indexers as well as the online checklist Think. Check. Submit.

In this interview, open access book author Dr Sven Teske shares why he chose to publish with Springer:

“I have been a scientist and engineer for more than 25 years, and for all of that time I have referred to numerous high-quality technical Springer published books. So given Springer’s reputation and reach, it was an easy choice. In this era of fake news and multiple online sources, it is now more important than ever to provide quality information from established reliable sources.”

- Dr Sven Teske

Therefore, choosing a prestigious open access book publisher is not just a matter of pride for the author, but it also carries a signal of quality, increases dissemination of the work as readers trust the publisher, and it can help an author’s career.

Springer Nature is a pioneer in open access book publishing, with over 1,000 open access books and 100 million chapter downloads. Our list includes award-winning authors and Nobel winners. We are experienced in providing our authors with the best services they need such as open access options for a range of book types, a free Open Access Funding and Policy Support Service, usage statistics via our platform SpringerLink, as well as established dissemination routes. We also participate in community projects such as the OAPEN Open Access Books Toolkit, and we work with funding partners such as UNESCO and the University of California, Berkeley Library.

Read part 2 to find out more about the production and dissemination of our open access books.

Sign up to the newsletter

Visit our open access books hub to learn more about how it all works, or contact a commissioning editor with your idea (Springer | Palgrave Macmillan | Apress).

Other Blogs you might find interesting:

Demystifying the publishing process: What value do open access book publishers add? Part 2

Emery 250x250
About Christina Emery

Christina Emery is a Senior Marketing Manager for Springer Nature’s open access books programmes. Her aim is to spread the word about the benefits of publishing academic books open access to researchers around the world.


Author: Guest contributor

Guest Contributors include Springer Nature staff and authors, industry experts, society partners, and many others. If you are interested in being a Guest Contributor, please contact us via email: