Open Access monograph publishing, although still at a start-up phase, has existed for more than a decade. In 1996 the National Academies Press began experimenting by publishing books for free on its Web site, while, at the same time, charging a fee for the corresponding print editions. However, for several reasons, the last few years have witnessed an exponential increase in the number of presses and publishers experimenting with Open Access monograph publishing.
The rise and success of Open Access journals in scientific and biomedical fields has spread to the Humanities and Social Sciences, promising similar benefits in access and outreach for Open Access books. It has also become easier for publishers to experiment with digital publishing models with the advent of digital printing techniques and Open Source software for process management and publishing (such as PKP’s Open Journal Systems (OJS) or the forthcoming Open Monograph Publishing OMP). But perhaps most important is the increasing realization that the traditional book publishing model is no longer sustainable. A new approach is needed both to ensure the publication of academic books and to improve their accessibility and dissemination.