In the closing weeks of March UNC Press was approached by a number of online platforms who host digital versions of our academic books. Because of the abrupt transition students and scholars were making to online learning and research, these platforms requested we permit unlimited, free access to our books through the end of June. While we rely on the revenue these channels provide to support our authors and staff, it was clear we needed to open our books. A crisis is precisely when it’s more important than ever to show your values. Limiting access would have been completely contrary to our mission of disseminating scholarship as broadly as possible.
At the same time, budgeting for the coming year has been a sobering process. We are predicting a six-figure deficit meaning we will be forced to make a number of difficult choices in the coming months. So, when JSTOR approached us again last week asking us to extend the unlimited, free access through the end of August, we had to view that through the hard reality of this looming concern. But JSTOR told us something else when they made this new request. They said use of our books had increased 75% during the past months. We have agreed to this extension.
We are facing unprecedented economic challenges at the same moment that our books are being discovered, read, and cited more than ever. Many of our recent titles on race and social justice are becoming cornerstones in the urgent conversations our country is having. There will be a time in the near future for us to make the case for financial support for the Press, but for now we encourage everyone to explore our books in hopes you see the value of the scholarship we so proudly publish.
Spangler Family Director, UNC Press