Editora Unesp, the press of Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita and one of the largest university presses in Brazil, currently offers 148 free e-books, or less than 10% of its catalog of 1,600 titles. It aims to multiply that number by four in the next ten years so that, within a decade, free books will amount to 25% of all press titles. “That’s not too bad,” says José Castilho Marques Neto, the press’s president.
“Not all of our titles have to be free, and it wouldn’t be possible for all of them to be so, because we aim at least to be self-sufficient,” Castilho explains. “Our approach is to publish for a variety of publics, pockets, profiles and interests. But one thing is clear: work that was financed with public money and that has scientific value must circulate freely.” All of the free e-books currently offered by the press were created from selected post-graduate works produced within Unesp.
Castilho believes that Brazilian universities are aware of this issue and beginning to experiment, the first movement being to offer free e-books of titles that are sold-out or which didn’t sell well in print. “But this is neither very innovative and nor far-sighted. We still need editorial projects with goals and aims. E-books shouldn’t be seen as souvenirs, but as products, which in our case don’t only follow market logic, but also take into account the aims of the university.”