The so-called Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities signaled the beginning of Open Access in 2003, and by now almost 500 institutions have signed the declaration (http://openaccess.mpg.de/Berlin-Declaration). Many—traditional—academic publishers have since developed Open Access business models for journal articles, introducing embargo and repository policies and creating hybrid and “gold” Open Access journals (for a classification of the different implementation practices of OA s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_access). Open Access has become more and more relevant also in the Humanities and Social Sciences, where —compared to the natural and medical sciences—books (monographs or edited volumes) traditionally play a more important role than journal articles. Particularly in the field of Classical Studies there are many institutions and scholars who have been proactive in searching for Open Access solutions for the publication of their research results, openly endorsing or initiating Open Access book projects. However, academic publishers have not reacted with the same promptness to the emerging demand for Open Access books, and only a few companies offer concrete options for Open Access book publishing. On the other hand, scholars publishing their books Open Access (online only) outside of mainstream publishing face the problem of visibility—as stressed during a round table discussion at the past SCS/AIA annual meeting (http://www.classicslibrarians.org/2015/01/open-access-books-the-problem-of-visibility-roundtable-discussion/): Open Access books are usually neither advertised nor indexed, with the result that the scholarly community often ignores their existence.
De Gruyter, as one of the worldwide leading publisher in the Humanities, is explicitly committed to offering high-standard services and state-of-the art solutions to academics and partner institutions, and was the first publisher in Europe to introduce an Open Access policy for books. De Gruyter’s Classical Studies program pioneered as early as 2009 by developing the first Open Access book series in Europe (and maybe in the world) together with the research network TOPOI. Selected titles from the series Topoi. Berlin Studies of the Ancient World are freely accessible in digital form on the Internet at the date of (print) publication (s. http://www.degruyter.com/view/serial/42567).
Since then, more and more Open Access book series have been launched. The series Münchner Vorlesungen zu Antiken Welten (Munich Lectures on Ancient Worlds) is the fruit of cooperation with the Münchner Zentrum für Antike Welten, a joint research center established at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich with a permanent visiting professorship. Each year an internationally renowned scholar in the field of Ancient Studies is invited to hold a lecture series on significant interdisciplinary topics which are then published in book form (s. http://www.degruyter.com/view/serial/204472).
The series “Materiale Textkulturen”, published in cooperation with the University of Heidelberg, explores in monographs and edited volumes the materiality and presence of the written in non-typographic societies (s. http://www.degruyter.com/view/serial/428997).
Finally, the Library of Chinese Humanities, one of our most prestigious Open Access projects, presents important works of poetry, fiction, philosophy, history, and religion from the pre-modern Chinese cultural tradition in English translation, side by side with a good edition of the original (s. http://www.degruyter.com/view/serial/449827?rskey=7Do5nZ&result=2).
All these publications—including single titles published Open Access in non-Open Access series (cfr. http://www.degruyter.com/view/product/448839?rskey=iP9ho6&result=1)—appear simultaneously in print and Open Access online (CC-BY-NC-ND), and receive exactly the same treatment as “print only” publications: Open Access books are peer reviewed, edited, professionally typeset and prepared for an online environment (PDF and EPUB). They are included in catalogs and receive strong marketing support. They are hosted, advertised, and distributed on the De Gruyter platform, are stored by long-term preservation services, given DOIs, and their metadata are automatically distributed to CrossRef and shared with abstracting and indexing (A&I) services.
De Gruyter’s Open Access Book policy is based on the payment of Open Access fees by authors or (more often) supporting institutions. At De Gruyter we do our best to meet the needs of scholars and find feasible solutions for both sides, e.g. actively helping authors in searching for a suitable grant or supporting their application for funding at national research institutions. To find out more about Open Access possibilities at De Gruyter feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org