Published 29 September 2020

The difference between open access and non-open access books

When considering which model to choose, what are the fundamental differences between an open access book and a non-open access book?


Where a non-open access book typically assigns most, if not all, copyright to a publisher, an open access book usually takes a Creative Commons (CC) licence which permits authors to retain copyright, whilst allowing readers to redistribute, re-use and adapt the content in new works under the terms of whichever licence is applied. As a result, if you want to include third-party material in your open access book, you must notify the rights holder of the licence under which your book will be released when seeking permissions.


Publishing open access does not affect the quality of a book (Springer Nature, 2018). Most publishers apply the same standards and procedures for both open access and non-open access titles, from editorial processes such as peer review, to production processes including design and typesetting.


An open access book will usually be made available via the publisher’s website as well as other ebook platforms such as the OAPEN Library, though these may vary by publisher. However, you can also make your book available elsewhere, such as on a department webpage or on your own website. A non-open-access book will only be available via the conventional routes: for purchase, or within a library that has purchased a copy. These policies will vary across publishers.


There may be a charge to cover the costs of making the book open access, but this depends on the model for publishing. There may also be funds available to cover the costs (see Overview of available Funding). Royalty payment policies may also differ between publishers for open access and non-open access books (see Contracting and copyright).


Depending on the publisher, an open access book may be available in different formats to a non-open access book. For example, some publishers may only make a PDF version open access, whilst others will make the book available in the same ebook formats as non-open access (Wellcome Trust, 2015), such as HTML, EPUB and MOBI. The open access book may also be made available for purchase in print.

Last edited on 29 September 2020, at 14:52 (+0000)