Opening the Future with Central European University (CEU) Press

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    Central European University (CEU) Press is a leading publisher in the history of Central and Eastern Europe and the former communist countries of the Soviet Union. From medieval studies to communism and transitions to democracy it is widely recognised as the foremost English-language university press dedicated to research on the region.

    CEU Press has created a sustainable Open Access (OA) publishing model called Opening the Future that gives participating member organizations access to a curated selection of their extensive backlist. The backlist titles are DRM free and libraries get perpetual access after a subscription period of three years. The membership revenue is used to make newly-published frontlist books openly accessible to anyone: CEU Press have already accrued funding for six OA monographs through this initiative. This consortial model of funding promises a cost-effective solution for OA that means no single institution bears a disproportionate burden.


    May 17, 2024 7:37pm
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    Shortlisted in 2021 for an ALPSP Innovation in Publishing Award, Opening the Future at CEU Press is a collective subscription model that, through its membership scheme, makes library funds go further: achieving the dual objectives of increasing collections and supporting Open Access. Members pay a small annual fee to get DRM-free, unlimited access to a selection of the well-regarded CEU Press backlist, with perpetual access after three years; the membership revenue is used to produce new OA monographs.

    Membership is open to libraries and institutions worldwide. Members receive access to packages of 50 titles from CEU Press’s extensive backlist on Central European history; the political, economic, social and cultural changes in the region; and the history of communism and transitions to democracy. There are several packages to choose from, including one with broad appeal with titles in literature, sociology and human rights, and each contains titles proven by recent download figures to be popular and current; one package has been curated by an independent panel of subject expert library colleagues. Institutions can also subscribe to more than one package.

    Watch an animation explaining the model in 60 seconds.


    The books in the subscription packages are hosted on Project MUSE (a leading not-for-profit platform in scholarly humanities publishing) in their standard DRM-free, unlimited-use model for ebooks. The books will appear alongside any other MUSE books or journals held by your library.

    MUSE collaborates with all major library discovery vendors to ensure the packages are set up as collections to be activated in all pertinent discovery services. Participating libraries can use MUSE’s Library Dashboard to access MARC records and KBART files customized to their holdings. Full-text searching is available across all books and within individual titles. COUNTER 5-compliant usage statistics are also available through the same dashboard.

    Authentication is via IP, Shibboleth, and referring URL.

    OA frontlist access is provided by Project MUSE, OAPEN, and the Open Research Library (ORL). OA titles are listed in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB).


    Membership is for three years, regardless of at what point a library signs up: once the payment is processed and subscription is activated, access to the package is granted for three years from that date, and becomes automatically perpetual at the end of the three year period. 

    Library and institutional members are banded according to their size and billing and licensing is handled by LYRASIS. The banding for US Institutions is tiered based on the Basic Classification from Carnegie Classification, and CRKN bands in Canada. In lieu of a license, Opening the Future uses Shared Electronic Resource Understanding (SERU), a NISO Best Practice governed by Copyright Law (though libraries may contact LYRASIS if they require a formal license).

    Table of Fees
    Annual Pricing per Package (USD) U.S. Classification (Carnegie Classification-Basic) Canada Classification (CRKN Bands)
    $425 Associate's Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    $950 Baccalaureate/Master's Bands 6, 7, 8, 9
    $1,425 Doctoral Bands 10, 11, 12, 13


    Fees can be paid annually or members can pay all three years in advance - LYRASIS can bill as required.

    Institutions that do not wish to sign up to a book package, or may not be able to, can still support and help to fund the Open Access monographs Frontlist through an ‘OA Supporter Membership’.

    Prices quoted above are due annually for the three year duration of the agreement. The packages and their contents won’t change: members won’t be asked to pay more on top of their annual fee to access additional titles.

    Strengths and Weaknesses

    The revenue from the membership – that yields access for supporting institutions to the backlist – will be used to fund the frontlist that is published in OA. Library membership fees pay for only those books that do not already have funding. The aim of this approach is to continue to develop a sustainable source of revenue for a press while achieving the desired commitment to making more titles OA. Given the current global library environment and existing budget pressures that have now been exacerbated by COVID-19, a consortial model of funding promises a cost-effective solution for OA that means no single institution bears a disproportionate burden.

    Watch a 60 second animation explaining the model here.

    Benefits to subscriber members:

    1. The model has a number of characteristics in its favor, including pleasing library economics. For example, if an average annual membership of approx $950 USD gives access to 50 backlist titles, and funds the target further 25 OA per year, that yields a total of 75 books per year that are accessible (and growing every year).
    2. Being a member is better value than buying the same titles individually. For example, with approx $950 USD a library might be able to buy 4 – 6 eBooks on multi-user licenses; for Opening the Future members the cost to a library would be only approx $39 USD per OA book once we reach our subscription targets, and we’re contributing together to build a global collection, where everyone benefits.
    3. Even at the highest tier of $1,425, the annual cost to a library is equivalent to half the price of a single average APC for a journal article. And at the expiry of their three-year membership, libraries will own the titles in perpetuity.
    4. When the revenue target is met and the entire monograph frontlist is openly accessible, future membership fee rates can be lowered.
    5. If the revenue target is exceeded, the surplus can go towards funding infrastructure projects devoted to enhancing open book dissemination.
    6. No catches and no hidden fees - we believe the books in the packages speak for themselves. Members won’t be asked to pay more on top of their annual fee to access ‘more’ or ‘better’ titles. Access to titles won’t suddenly change; there’s no bait and switch.
    7. Titles included in the packages are selected based on recent download/usage figures in order to ensure they are relevant, current, and represent good value-for-money.
    8. Membership revenue will pay for only those frontlist books that do not already have funding.
    9. Books that have other external funding for OA will not receive funding under the Opening the Future programme.

    Download a detailed PDF brochure outlining benefits, key features of the model and fine print here.


    “I am delighted to see the development of new models working to make open access for books a reality. Emerging out of COPIM, this programme is advantageous to libraries, whether they already have CEU Press books or not, and all funds raised will go towards making the frontlist open. Scaling the model is expected through the creation of a hub where libraries will be able to select programmes from a number of reputable academic presses.” Paul Ayris, Pro-VC UCL Library Services & CEO UCL Press


    Melanie Kowalski and Samantha Abrams in collaboration with Tom Grady (COPIM). 

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