In the summer of 2010, Amartya Sen, the Nobel prizewinning Indian economist, wanted to publish a book he had edited that explores why ethnic or religious violence erupts – and how it can be prevented.
Rather than approaching a hallowed university press, he turned instead to the open access Open Book Publishers in Cambridge [UK].
He wanted Peace and Democratic Society to be freely available to readers and policymakers in the developing world so it would have a real impact on civic debate, said Alessandra Tosi, co-founder and managing director of Open Book Publishers and a life fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge.
Since its foundation in 2008 by a group of University of Cambridge academics, the press has published 42 books and has charted a dramatic rise in readers from just over 5,000 in 2009 to nearly 150,000 last year.
Since May 2013, the publisher has made four of its books available to the world’s poorest via Worldreader, a non-profit organisation whose app permits digital books to be read on almost any mobile phone. It is now working to put all of its titles on the platform.
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