OpenEdition Freemium For eBooks

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    OpenEdition is an academic publishing portal for electronic resources in the humanities and social sciences with four platforms presenting publications and current information:

    • OpenEdition Journals
    • OpenEdition Books
    • Calenda
    • Hypotheses

    The OpenEdition publishing initiative focuses on providing open access content. They characterize the funding model as “hybrid”, where library subscriptions derive value added services in addition to directly funding publishing efforts.

    May 31, 2024 4:27pm
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    Collection Content

    OpenEdition is an academic publishing portal for electronic resources in the humanities and social sciences with four platforms presenting publications and current information:

    • OpenEdition Journals (academic journals, founded in 1999)
    • OpenEdition Books (founded in 2013)
    • Calenda (announcements of academic events, founded in 2000)
    • Hypotheses (platform and index for research blogs, founded in 2008)

    The goals and potential scope of OpenEdition are quite broad. As of July, 2014, there were nearly 1500 book titles and 370 journals, with growth of the e-books planned to exceed 2300 titles by late 2014, and with a longer range goal of 16,000 titles by 2020. Content comes from over forty publishers. The wide range of subjects includes archaeology, anthropology, environmental studies, public administration, literature, and religion. The blog platform hosted over 700 research blogs in mid-2014. Blog topics ranged from Charlemagne to background on the current conflict in Syria.

    While the language of the great majority of content is French (78% of books, 94% of journals), many of the journals are bilingual, and English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German content is represented as well.

    OpenEdition is a public non-profit initiative, a joint service and research unit (USR 2004) that brings together the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the université d'Aix-Marseille, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), and Avignon Université. Libraries which subscribe to Freemium content (see below under Terms) become members of the “Library working group” of the OpenEdition users’ committee.

    2020 Update

    As of February 2020, the OpenEdition eBook collection provides access to over 9,400 titles from 105 publishers.

    2019 Update

    As of February 2019, whole catalogue in the Humanities and Social Sciences composed of over 6,650 books from 90 publishers.


    OpenEdition delivery tools are available if the patron is accessing content through a “Freemium” open access subscription package (see below under Terms for more information on the Freemium funding model).  Freemium content provides libraries and researchers with:

    • Flexible downloading: unlimited, DRM-free download of PDF and ePub files for journal articles
    • Advanced search engines (no specific details available), and reportedly fast downloads
    • Notifications: new publications and blog posts are featured within the dedicated platforms; also a customized alert system is available for registered users which can deliver notifications of journal articles, books, calls for papers, and blog posts related to specified keyword or authors
    • Data services: APIs allow integrated display of notifications in local websites and workspaces;  an OAI-PMH repository can render records and sets of metadata for content from all four platforms in several schema (including Dublin Core and METS)
    • Multiple device access: Bookserver is an open format tool allowing access to content on mobile phones and e-readers
    • Usage data: in addition to COUNTER statistics, OpenEdition provides monthly reports including referrer sites for accessed material, as well as visualized usage data

    The main platform interfaces are available in French and English, while the blog platform (Hypotheses) also provides interfaces in German and Portugeuse (blog posts themselves are in various European languages).

    2020 Update on Discoverability

    To improve the discoverability of OpenEdition ebooks, OpenEdition started to offer kbart files, by access type, bundle, or upon demand.  More information is available on the OpenEdition website.

    OpenEdition recently established an agreement with ABES (Agence Bibliographique de l'Enseignement Supérieur in France) which enables the reuse of the OpenEdition Books Marc records from SUDOC.  These MARC records are available upon request with OpenEdition.  


    OpenEdition characterizes the Freemium library subscription investment as a hybrid model to sustainably support open access publishing (while providing some value added services). They indicate that the benefits will include finding an alternative to restricted access platforms, as well as keeping revenues directed toward actual costs. Two-thirds of income goes to the journals and publishers, while one-third is invested in OpenEdition’s platform development.

    Acquisitions options vary: book titles can be selected individually or as a bundle; journal packages have tiered pricing which apply an interesting array of factors, including FTE of students in the disciplines of social sciences and humanities, the number of employees at an organization (e.g. research organization staff?), and Gross Domestic Product per Capita for the country of the subscribing institution.

    Discerning how much of the platform content is open access can be somewhat confusing. In correspondence with CRL the OpenEdition distributor has indicated that for books, as of mid-2014, almost 80% of the nearly 1500 titles in the system were available in open access html format.  OpenEdition requires that publishers of books provide at least 50% of their content as open access or open access freemium; up until now they have voluntarily put more content than requested in open access.  Regarding journals, as of mid-2014 35% were available as full open access, 28% in open access freemium (html format only), and the remaining third had an embargo period.  This proportion was expected to remain steady, although the distributors reported that they were working to reduce embargo periods.

    Local hosting is supported: OpenEdition reports that "When books are purchased, the files belong to the libraries [and can be hosted] at the end of the year; for freemium journals, the libraries can also receive the files of the subscription year, and be locally hosted and provided to their authorized users."

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