Academic Book Week: Interview with author Prof. Dave Reay, Climate-Smart Food

The Source
By: undefined, Thu Mar 5 2020

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.

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Why did you choose to make your book available on an open access basis?

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.

How was the open access fee (book processing charge) funded?

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.

Tell us about the relationship with your funder.

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.

Why did you publish this book with Palgrave Macmillan?

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.

What were you hoping to achieve with your book?

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.

How were you hoping that open access would help with achieving your goals?

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.

What benefits or impact have you seen from publishing this book open access?

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!

How did you promote the book?

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 you have any advice to others considering publishing their next book or chapter open access?

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.

Would you publish open access again?

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

Dave Reay © Springer Nature
Dave Reay is Professor of Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh, UK. He has studied climate change for over 25 years, from warming impacts in the Southern Ocean, through carbon fluxes in forests, to greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands and agriculture. Dave has authored over 100 articles on climate change, including 6 books and is also an advisor for the Scottish Government on rural policy and climate change. His latest project involves managing his farm on the West Coast of Scotland to sequester a lifetime's carbon emissions.

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.