Open Access Week 2016: Why Publish OA? An author’s view

by Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor, authors of Equity Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America’s Metro Areas

Last year, UC Press launched Luminos, our open access publishing program for monographs. In celebration of International Open Access Week, we’ve asked Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor, co-authors of the newly published Luminos title, Equity Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America’s Metro Areas, to talk about their experiences publishing an open access book. From initial trepidation to OA advocacy, Benner and Pastor offer an authorial view of the benefits of open access publishing.


Probably like many academic authors, we were initially concerned that open access might be viewed by others as meaning low quality—after all, if it was really good, why would it be “free”?  Of course, we knew the standards that we had applied to ensure rigor, as well the reviews from which our manuscript benefited, and the exacting process that UC Press and Luminos have put in place to ensure a high quality series. But would others glean all that background?

It was the thinking about others that actually made it clear. We realized that we have long valued our role as public intellectuals who are willing and indeed, eager, to bring ideas into the messy real world and participate in the debates that change lives—and this open access model is perfectly suited to that sort of effort.

More specifically, the open access model UC Press and Luminos are helping to pioneer totally fit the central messages of our book—that equity and opportunity are key for sustainable growth, that cross-sector conversations can bring new common ground, and that data deliberations in knowledge communities can forge productive solutions. We quickly became committed to this effort to democratize access to scholarship of consequence.

And here is what we’ve learned since publishing. First, that free access doesn’t seem to shrink the market for hard copies but rather it helps to build it. People still want the “feel” of a book but they get more convinced that a volume should be on their shelf when they get a downloaded taste.

Second, you can’t assume the market is there for your work. We have gotten out and spoken about the book in multiple settings, particularly to non-academic audiences, and we also created a website with some of the key messages and data, helping to drive interested readers to the Luminos download.

Finally, this really is the wave of the future. Your work can get out more quickly and touch infinitely more people. It is easier for others to assign significant portions of a book in a class without worrying about running afoul of copyright laws. Open access is where publishing is headed—and we’ve been proud to be working with the first-movers in this new learning space.


Benner_ChrisChris Benner is the Dorothy E. Everett Chair in Global Information and Social Entrepreneurship, Director of the Everett Program for Digital Tools for Social Innovation, and Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research examines the relationships between technological change, regional development, and structures of economic opportunity, including regional labor markets and restructuring of work and employment. His most recent book, coauthored with Manuel Pastor, is Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Region. Other books include This Could Be the Start of Something Big: How Social Movements for Regional Equity Are Transforming Metropolitan America, and Work in the New Economy: Flexible Labor Markets in Silicon Valley.

Prof_Manuel_PastorManuel Pastor is Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, where he also serves as Director of USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and Codirector of USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). His most recent book, coauthored with Chris Benner, is Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Region. He is also the coauthor of Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future, and This Could Be the Start of Something Big: How Social Movements for Regional Equity Are Transforming Metropolitan America.

Click here to download Equity, Growth, and Community


Stay tuned all week for more special content from UC Press Open Access initiatives.