OBP has now published over 100 Open Access scholarly books, of which 9 are textbooks, and 6 are specifically targeted at A-level students in the UK. In addition, we have published 3 titles that have relied heavily on the direct participation of students from Oxford University and the Conservatoire of Music in Paris as part of their university coursework.
Establishing fair and equal access to high-quality teaching material has been a primary motivation for all our textbook authors, including Ingo Gildenhard, now a lecturer in Classics at Cambridge, who approached us about publishing a commentary of an assigned A-Level Latin text by Cicero. Since then, he has written 3 more books, which have been widely adopted by schools throughout England and Wales.
Stephen Siklos is another author motivated by a desire to offer free access to his work. Dr. Siklos has been the Head of the STEP examination board – a mathematics examination used in the admission process for several top UK universities – for many years. Ensuring that high quality commentaries on questions selected from past STEP examinations are freely accessible to all potential candidates, whatever their background, was critical for Dr. Siklos when he published Advanced Problems in Mathematics: Preparing for University, which is one of our bestselling and most-read titles.
Open Access texts have also been the output of classroom interaction, proving that Open Access books are not merely products that students receive, but can also be objects of communal design and creation. In 2015, Caroline Warman, a lecturer in French at Oxford, coordinated the entire second year of French students to translate extracts by Enlightenment scholars on the topic of tolerance in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. This was published on the first anniversary of the tragedy, receiving national media exposure. It has been accessed almost 28,000 times.
Students of the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris performed the musical pieces especially for A Multi-Media Bilingual Edition of Denis Diderot’s ‘Rameau’s Nephew’ – ‘Le Neveu de Rameau’ edited by Marian Hobson. These were embedded into the digital editions, which went on to win the British Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies’ prize for digital publication in 2015.
Despite being free to read and download online, the printed editions are systematically amongst OBP’s highest selling titles. In fact, the ratio of printed sales to online readers is higher for textbooks than for our other academic monographs. This will be encouraging news for those concerned about the financial viability of publishing Open Access textbooks.