Crowd-Sourced Unlatching of Curricular Books: A Joint Pilot by the California State University, Knowledge Unlatched, and the Internet Archive

Updated May 13, 2020

My CNI presentation felt like it went really well, despite a couple wireless freezes during the session. A video recording is now available on Vimeo or embedded in the session event page, linked from the Coalition for Networked Information Spring 2020 Virtual Membership Meeting website.

I’ve uploaded the presentation outline to Zenodo for easy access and linked open data compliance.

The presentation abstract is available through CNI and appended below:

BPCs (Book Processing Charges) to publish specific books Open Access (OA) usually are reserved for front-listed items and funded by one or a few sponsoring organizations. More often than not, such funds underwrite scholarly monographs that do not directly substitute for required course textbooks. BPCs do not typically cover the republication or relicensing (“unlatching,” “unlocking,” or “flipping”) of back-listed and out-of-print titles, even though such titles represent a massive amount of scholarly knowledge restricted by copyright, confined to print format, and yet still used in course curricula. This presentation will unveil an innovative, collaborative pilot between the California State University (CSU), Knowledge Unlatched, and the Internet Archive. As a global leader in Affordable Learning $olutions to save students money on textbooks, CSU proposed this pilot, provided a list of 18,000 ISBNs from required readings across its 23 campuses, and supplied matching kick-starter funds. Knowledge Unlatched combed through the CSU ISBN list to identify backlisted titles and negotiate pre-agreed price points at which publishers would unlatch these books. Finally, the Internet Archive ensured the availability of a digitized copy of the book on its Open Library platform, made it available for check-out via Controlled Digital Lending, and also coordinated book-specific, crowd-funding campaigns through a centralized list and on decentralized book record pages. Even publishers stand to benefit from this novel approach to OA publishing with its built-in capacity to gauge demand and monetize books that are not currently sources of revenue.