In this post, our publisher member The White Horse Press describes how the OBC’s support is enabling their progress towards a sustainable future for OA books.
The White Horse Press is delighted to announce details of our first book supported by the Open Book Collective (OBC). Entire of Itself? Towards an Environmental History of Islands, edited by Pavla Šimková and Milica Prokić (coming in March 2024), is an edited collection of fourteen essays that together attempt a group portrait of this exceptional category of places in the context of environmental history. Ranging widely across space and time, from ancient Ephesus to the sudden eruption and equally sudden disappearance of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha'apai in the contemporary Pacific, the volume showcases islands as dynamic entities that both shape history and are shaped by it, exploring the intertwined temporal, material and identity layers of island environments, and their transformations in response to human endeavours of conservation, exploitation and experimentation.
The co-editors are both early-career researchers without secure access to institutional funds and many of the volume’s contributors are in a similar position, with some also being attached to institutions in the Global South. The White Horse Press is excited by and committed to the transition to Open Access scholarship, but we have been troubled in the past by the need to rely on Book Processing Charges (BPCs) to fund Open Access books. That model necessarily favours scholars from wealthier institutions and in more secure positions, with access to institutional or project budgets. The OBC is radically disrupting the landscape by collecting and disseminating funds to support Open Access without these barriers. Entire of Itself? has received a contribution from one author’s institution and we will cover the remainder of the costs (three quarters) with OBC funding. The author contribution allows us to reserve the remainder of the OBC funds we have so far received to support another book, but the OA publication of Entire of Itself? would simply have been impossible without the OBC.
How does it work? Well, the OBC is based on an innovative technical system that enables interactions between many small presses and many libraries, so as to make the process of seeking and providing OA funding support much more efficient for all concerned. Through this aggregative approach, The White Horse Press is able to realise some of the benefits that larger presses take for granted, while retaining full independence and full control of the book publishing process. For us, OBC represents a huge step towards a sustainably OA future.
From the shifting mud of riparian Nirmal char in Bangladesh to the former Yugoslav prison island of Goli otok, from Corsica to the Caribbean island of Culebra, the essays in Entire of Itself? insist that no island is ‘merely’ an island – ‘Islands’, the editors say, ‘are entities that can at once embody isolation and the dense entanglements between the human and the non-human as well as those between island and mainland’ and the volume’s pulse is the ‘push and pull of isolation and connection’, with all the studied islands having been shaped by their connections to other places. The title derives from John Donne’s famous sermon, which taught that ‘No man is an island, entire of himself’, but rather ‘a piece of the continent, a part of the main’. This seems an apt metaphor for the networks of cooperation that the OBC is beginning to shape – a system in which publishers, authors, books, libraries, funders are not isolated but mutually constitutive. Being part of OBC allows WHP and all the other partners to be ‘part of the main’ and stronger and better for it.
The OBC thanks The White Horse Press for being part of the Collective, and working with us towards a sustainable and equitable landscape for OA scholarly books. Look out for more blog posts from our publisher members coming soon.