Image of books published by punctum books

In a room at the UC Santa Barbara Library, Eileen A. Fradenburg Joy and her students prepare for revolution. They wield no weapons, only words. They seek not to overthrow a government, but to disrupt the multibillion-dollar academic publishing industry.

Joy leads the Arnhold Punctum Publishing Lab, an internship that teaches nine undergraduates and two graduate students the business and art of publishing — from raw manuscript to distribution — over two quarters. More broadly, Joy advocates for “open access” publishing, the practice of making peer-reviewed scholarly research and literature freely available online to anyone interested in reading it.

Open access is a radical concept in the U.S., where academic publishing is a highly profitable industry — and one that’s increasingly straining the budgets of university libraries. It’s a phenomenon Joy knows well. As director of punctum books, an open-access imprint she founded on April Fool’s Day in 2011, she’s been immersed in the movement to make academic publishing more accessible, affordable and interesting.

“We have the skills, the means and the people to take back the reins of publishing into the hands of the university,” Joy said. “In some ways it’s like an activist movement; we want to get the knowledge generated by public university researchers back into the public domain.”

Excerpted from an article by Jim Logan which appears in full in UCSB's "The Current".