News Launches to Flip Funding Model for University Publishing

The Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Association of University Presses (AUPresses) have launched a new website,, in a bold new effort to change the landscape of scholarly book publishing in the humanities and social sciences.

AAU, ARL, and AUPresses established TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem) in 2017 as a five-year pilot project. Monographs remain the preeminent form of scholarly publication in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, but the funding model is broken.

TOME seeks to address this problem by moving us toward a new, more sustainable system that meets monograph publishing costs with institutionally funded faculty book subsidies. TOME’s new website highlights the innovative nature of this initiative.

Colleges and universities participating in TOME commit to providing baseline grants of $15,000 to support the publication of average-length open access monographs. (Additional funding may be available for especially long or complex books.) These publication grants make it possible for presses to publish monographs in open access editions, increasing the presence of humanities and social science scholarship on the web and opening up knowledge to a truly global readership.

Twenty-eight TOME-funded books have been published to date, with over thirty more in progress. The site draws attention to individual TOME books while providing a wealth of information and resources for authors and publishers who may be interested in publishing a book under the auspices of TOME. There is also information for university administrators and librarians who may be considering TOME for their institutions.

There are 17 institutions participating in TOME and over 60 university presses that have committed to producing digital open access editions of TOME volumes, openly licensing them under Creative Commons licenses, and depositing the files in selected open repositories. The newest institutions to join the initiative are Rice University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as of fall 2019.

“This attractive new website truly conveys to the world what TOME seeks to accomplish,” said Peter Potter, publishing director for the University Libraries at Virginia Tech and ARL visiting program officer. “TOME is about bringing together scholars, universities, libraries, and presses in pursuit of a common goal—to create a more sustainable system for funding monograph publishing while ensuring that, in the future, monographs are fully integrated into the larger web-based network of scientific research. As we also emphasize on the website, we see TOME as part of a growing movement to open up scholarly research to the world and we welcome partners and collaborators committed to fundamental change.”

“With more than 15 universities and 60 university presses currently part of the TOME initiative, the presence of humanities and social science scholarship on the web continues to open up such work to more audiences and drive institutional change and acceptance,” said Jessica Sebeok, AAU deputy vice president for federal relations and counsel for policy. “The TOME website is a powerful tool that helps to showcase TOME books, share lessons learned, and better connect the network of academic institutions, publishing partners, and the larger open access community.”

“The humanities and social sciences right now face real questions over how the ideals of open access can benefit fields that communicate scholarship through long-form arguments most often published using nonprofit, editorially rigorous, and peer-review-driven processes,” said Peter Berkery, AUPresses executive director. “Experiments with sustainable models are really blossoming throughout our community and we have been proud to partner in an initiative as successful as TOME. Not only has it been an opportunity for all partners to learn, the books so far published and in the pipeline are significant achievements themselves. The new website will help share that scholarship, our lessons, and the opportunity to join in this movement very effectively.”

About the Association of American Universities

Founded in 1900, the Association of American Universities is composed of America’s leading research universities. AAU’s 65 research universities transform lives through education, research, and innovation. Our member universities earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research that improves public health, seeks to address national challenges, and contributes significantly to our economic strength, while educating and training tomorrow’s visionary leaders and innovators. AAU member universities collectively help shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation; promote best practices in undergraduate and graduate education; and strengthen the contributions of leading research universities to American society. Follow AAU on Twitter, on Facebook, and on LinkedIn.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at

About the Association of University Presses

The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) is an organization of more than 150 international nonprofit scholarly publishers. Since 1937, the Association of University Presses has advanced the essential role of a global community of publishers whose mission is to ensure academic excellence and cultivate knowledge. The Association holds integrity, diversity, stewardship, and intellectual freedom as core values. AUPresses members are active across many scholarly disciplines, including the humanities, arts, and sciences, publish significant regional and literary work, and are innovators in the world of digital publishing. 

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