A guest post by Dr. Gennifer Weisenfeld, describing her recent experience in regaining rights from the original publisher of her first book, Mavo: Japanese Artists and the Avant Garde, 1905-1931:
Open access is a major step toward the democratization of knowledge. It offers accessibility for course adoption and global readership that inestimably extends the reach of one’s scholarship. My first book Mavo is still a standard text in the field of modern Japanese art history. But the high production value of the original hard cover printing disinclined the original publisher from issuing an affordable paperback. For years, I made no progress in lobbying for a paperback or e-book version, though there was clearly a need. I received batches of testimonials penned by colleagues around the world who committed to assigning these more affordable versions in lieu of the current widespread practice of copying large sections of the book that simply produces grainy and often illegible black and white images that do a serious disservice to the visual program.
I had all but given up on the prospect of Mavo being fully accessible. Then I met Dave Hansen, who shared his passion for open access and made it seem like a real possibility. He walked me through the process for requesting rights reversion, which I then pursued with the original publisher, the University of California Press. The press was not inclined to take on this open access project themselves, but allowed me to regain my rights to do so myself. Duke Libraries then handled the high quality scanning of the text that created such a first rate final product. Now colleagues are writing to me from around the world praising this important move both for its literal and symbolic value. I hope that this will inspire others to pursue open access for their work. And I know it will give my scholarship on Mavo a new life because it can now continue to reach new generations of scholars.”
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You can find out more about Dr. Weisenfeld and her research through her Scholars@Duke profile.