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... But if there is no expectation for the press to be profitable, the press could explore alternative methods of remunerating authors, such as once-off, upfront payments to name but one example (Van Schalkwyk, 1998). This would resolve the tension between sales-dependent royalty payments and open access. ...
This article investigates the current status and challenges faced by university presses in Africa, looking particularly at the institutional perspective. Four case studies from Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa show how different presses adapt their practices and adopt new technologies. Interpreted through an institutional logics perspective, the status of the university presses is described according to established editorial and market logics, to which a third, hypothetical logic of the knowledge commons is added. The logic of the knowledge commons accounts for changes advanced by the digitization of content, peer‐to‐peer networks as the basis for production, the rise of open access, and an emerging social capitalism. In two cases, we find university presses constrained by traditional editorial logics, while a third one exhibits a hybrid editorial–market model with the purposive adoption of new technologies. Only the fourth, recently established press has embraced the new logic of the knowledge commons wholeheartedly. Thus, if there is a second transition of the academic publishing industry underway, it is in its early stages, partial, and limited in the African context. We thus show that the logic of the knowledge commons provides a useful theoretical lens for studying the far‐reaching and rapid ongoing changes in international academic publishing in Africa and further afield.