Exploring Open Access scholarly ebook usage

White paper suggests ways to improve usage data that will benefit all stakeholders including authors, publishers, funders, vendors, libraries, and readers.

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) has published a white paper summarising current practices in tracking usage of open-access (OA) monographs. With so many stakeholders, the White Paper recommends the development of a data trust to help understand OA ebook usage.

The challenges of measuring usage

Information about the impact of academic ebooks, especially OA books, is much more difficult to gather, analyse, and communicate than information about online scholarly journals. A central issue is that book publishers do not use DOIs comprehensively or consistently. Stakeholders also encounter difficulties analysing collected data in ways that respect user privacy. Data relating to OA monographs is generated at many different points within the digital landscape, and no single player has access to a complete picture of how OA monographs are being discovered and used.

The current picture

A good deal of data is already available – some in open and some in closed environments. Data may include sensitive commercial information as well as user information that needs to be handled appropriately. Compared to journal publishing, in the monograph landscape there are no dominant players. This diversity means that no single player – or small group – is likely to act on its own to solve the usage data challenges.


Define the governance and architecture of the data trust – an advisory board should explore and agree an appropriate structure and model.

Create a pilot service that implements the defined governance and architecture – which must be conducted in an open, inclusive, and balanced way across all stakeholders

Use relevant open-source technologies that support open OA usage tracking – there are some tools already available in Europe and the US

Develop personas and use cases that demonstrates who benefits from OA usage data - several use cases can be developed based on the US and European experiences

Build engagement across multiple markets – although the white paper focuses on connecting stakeholders in the US and further efforts will be required to bridge the wider universe of OA ebook stakeholders.

Improved documentation of the supply chain for OA monographs – including the mapping of usage that will help define a value-based model that supports discovery, access and use of these ebooks.

You can download the white paper here https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:24147/