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Case studies

  • Mattering Press: In the UK, Mattering Press chose to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). This was in part because becoming a charity was in line with the press’ values. But the particular appeal of the model was that it combined being a non-profit with incorporation. As Joe Deville, one of the Press’ co-founder’s put it “we didn’t want to be personally liable for something that the press might produce.  Even though, of course, we take care in what we produce we wanted to be protected” (Jisc Interviews, Joe Deville). For Mattering Press, becoming a CIO was important enough for the Press to go through the lengthy process involved, including not only becoming incorporated but simultaneously applying to be registered as a Charity with the UK’s charity commission. However, liability is just one consideration, as forms of incorporation taken may entail particular legal obligations regarding, for example, governance and taxation.
  • African Minds: Founder Francois Van Schalkwyk highlights the challenges that Open Access publishers can face when attempting to apply for charitable or non-profit status when still deriving revenue from sales, recalling "much tussling with the Receiver of Revenue [in South Africa] about the apparent contradiction between promoting universal access to knowledge while also selling books in the academic market" (Business Models for OA Books). The publisher was eventually approved as a public benefit organisation.

The table below also includes an overview of the organisation type chosen by a selection of smaller and academic publishers. It is based on a combination of information from Jisc interviews, Business Models for OA Books and direct correspondence.

Organisation type

African Minds

Not-for-profit trust; Public Benefit Organisation

South Africa

Language Science Press

Charitable Limited Company (Gemeinnützige Unternehmergesellschaft)


Mattering Press

Charitable Incorporated Organisation


Mayfly Books

Unincorporated charity


Non-profit Corporation

Pennsylvania, USA

meson press

Registered Cooperative (Eingetragene Genossenschaft)


Open Book Publishers

Non-profit Community Interest Company (Social Enterprise)


punctum books

Non-profit Public Benefit Corporation

California, USA

White Horse Press

Limited Liability Partnership