Published 29 September 2020

Types of publisher and publishing services

There are multiple types of publisher which differ in their approaches and operating models but offer broadly similar services. This article details the types of publisher (or presses), the services you should expect and some of the charges you might encounter.

Types of publisher

Type of publisherAboutExamples
Commercial publishersCommercial publishers are not affiliated to an academic institution. They have a for-profit business model, so money made in excess of operating costs might be paid to shareholders.Springer Nature, Taylor and Francis, Bloomsbury Publishing, Brill Publishing, Cappelen Damm/NOASP, De Gruyter. Some well-known publishers are owned by, or imprints of, these organisations, e.g., Palgrave Macmillan (Springer Nature), Routledge (Taylor & Francis).
University pressesUniversity presses are attached to a university / universities, and often receive financial support from them. They might receive academic support, e.g., peer reviewers or editorial boards might be drawn from the university’s academic staff. If the press makes money in excess of its operating costs, this might be returned to the university.Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Manchester University Press, Harvard University Press, Michigan University Press.
New university presses (NUPs)These are university presses established since the 1990s, often explicitly to publish open access books. In many other respects, they are run like a university press. However, as with library publishing (see below), NUPs are often library-led, albeit with an academic-led steering group or editorial board.UCL Press, White Rose University Press, Huddersfield University Press, University of Westminster Press, Lever Press, Amherst College Press, Stockholm University Press, ANU Press, UTS ePRESS.
Academic-led presses (ALPs), also known as scholar-led pressesThese are presses that are not affiliated to an institution, but are run by academics. They are almost all not-for-profit, meaning any money made in excess of operating costs is reinvested into the running of the press. As with NUPs, many of these presses were founded specifically to publish open access books.Open Book Publishers, punctum books, Mattering Press, meson press, Open Humanities Press (which together make up the ScholarLed consortium). The Radical Open Access Collective has a useful directory of academic-led presses.
Library publishingSome academic libraries provide publishing services, commonly producing journals but sometimes including books. They might work in tandem with a university press at the same institution.The Library Publishing Coalition has a helpful list of libraries that produce books.


Most reputable publishers offer a range of services, typically including:

  • Peer review
  • Editorial support in developing the manuscript (usually in response to peer review)
  • Copy-editing
  • Proof-reading
  • Type-setting
  • Producing editions in a range of formats (e.g., paperback, hardback, ePub, MOBI, PDF, XML, HTML)
  • Metadata tagging
  • Marketing
  • Distribution to sales outlets and libraries
  • Archiving
  • Reporting the book’s usage (impact)


Publishers sometimes charge authors for certain services. These can include:

  • book processing charge (BPC): some publishers charge a fee to publish a book open access;
  • editorial services: some publishers require the author to pay for these. Alternatively, if your book requires extensive copy-editing, a press might charge for the additional work involved;
  • indexing: publishers typically expect the author to provide an indexed manuscript, but will provide an indexing service for a fee;
  • image management: if your book includes a large amount of third-party material (e.g. images, video, audio), a publisher might charge a fee to assist with clearing the rights and for the additional typesetting work.

If a publisher charges a fee, you should establish exactly what services you expect to receive. The costs should be laid out transparently in advance (See How to choose a publisher for your open access book).

Last edited on 29 September 2020, at 15:19 (+0000)