By Christina Emery, Marketing Manager, Open Access Books
To celebrate Academic Book Week 2020 (#AcademicBookWeek) *, whose theme focuses on academic books and the environment, read our series of author interviews and find out how open access has helped them achieve their goals.
Prof. Dave Reay is author of the open access book Climate-Smart Food (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) which is available for free download. His book has reached almost 40,000 chapter downloads within the first year.
My past books have all been on climate change and have done quite well sales-wise, but always hit the barrier of paywalls. This was really frustrating when as an author I wanted to get the word out on the challenges and solutions of climate change to as many people as possible. So, for Climate-Smart Food I was determined to make it as accessible as possible and the open access route was ideal.
The University of Edinburgh were great in supporting this financially so we could make open access worldwide. Key to this was that much of the research and thinking that went into the book stemmed from my many years of research support from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) here in the UK. Given it drew so heavily on publicly-funded research and is a very public-focued book, we could make a strong case for it being open access.
I’ve been at the University of Edinburgh for almost 20 years and throughout that time, they’ve been really good at helping to ensure papers (and now this book) are open access. This is supported by the research councils in the UK (UKRI) and in particular the NERC – as a frequent grant holder for NERC this then allowed a clear pathway to support for open access to my research.
A long and really good working relationship - my first book Climate Change Begins at Home was published with the then Macmillan Science imprint and I was blessed with the best editor (Sara Abdulla) and support an author could ever wish for. Since then I’ve published a children’s book (Your Planet Needs You!) with Macmillan Children’s books, and also Nitrogen & Climate Change with Palgrave. Every time the editorial support has been brilliant and the publication process slick and far-reaching.
Understanding. Understanding of where our food comes from, the threat that climate change poses to it and the many millions of people who provide it, and how each of us has a role in addressing both climate change and food security through what we eat.
Reach. Being open access means anyone can read it, from a high school student researching an essay, through popular science readers and specialist academics, through to farmers, growers and fisherfolk themselves.
The numbers are pretty astonishing - near 40k downloads at last count, and that’s just for one online platform. The fact that you can easily access specific chapters seems to be really popular - I’ve loved watching which foods and drinks in the book get the most downloads: coffee, chocolate and champagne seem to be some of the most popular!
Mainly through Twitter (@keelingcurve) and LinkedIn. I wrote a few blogs and gave several public talks but social media seems to have been one of the most powerful ways to promote it.
Do it. Talk to your institution and find out what support they might give. Make the case that there is a duty that our research, especially if publicly-funded, should also be publicly-accessible. If you are in it for the royalties then this route isn’t for you (there are no royalties). But if you want your book to reach around the world and inform a readership you’d never normally be able to speak to then open access is for you.
Definitely. I can’t imagine any other way now. Watch out University of Edinburgh open access team as I’ll be knocking on your door again soon.
About Dave Reay
Take a look at our curated collection of environment-related open access books selected by our editors.
If you would like to make your research available as an open access book, Springer Nature offers options across disciplines for a variety of book types.
*Academic Book Week is a celebration of the diversity, variety and influence of academic books throughout history run by the Booksellers Association, returning for a fifth year from 9-13 March 2020. The theme for 2020 focuses on the environment, a topic which strongly aligns with Springer Nature's commitment to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We aim to share the discoveries that address the world’s challenges of sustainable development, which is more easily achievable through publishing open research.