Over the last few years those involved in Open Access journals publishing have run into one another at trade or scientific conferences. Given that all are involved in a similar approach to publishing, it has been natural to share experiences, advice, and thoughts on how to support Open Access publishing generally and grow the OA market place in particular. Within an otherwise highly competitive publishing market, Open Access publishers found it useful to be open and frank about their business models, experiences and plans for the future.

During 2007 and 2008 two different groups of OA publishers – professional publishing organizations on the one hand and independent (scientist/scholar) publishers on the other – began discussing the possibilities of creating a more formal association to represent the interests of OA publishers. When these two groups became aware of one another, they decided to work together to create an umbrella association that would support the entire spectrum of OA journals publishers – for profit, non-profit, university presses, society publishers, and scientist/scholar publishers working independent of a publishing organization. All recognized the value of bringing this community together in order to develop appropriate business models, tools and standards to support OA journals.

Through a series of meetings and teleconferences among the founding members (BioMed Central, Matt Cockerill; Co-Action Publishing, Caroline Sutton; Copernicus, Martin Rasmussen; Hindawi Publishing Corporation, Paul Peters; Journal of Medical Internet Research, Gunther Eysenbach; Medical Education Online, David Solomon; Public Library of Science, Mark Patterson; SAGE, David Ross; SPARC Europe, David Prosser;  Utrecht University Library, Bas Savenije) the fledgling association began to take shape. To ensure that the resulting association would meet the needs of publishers across academic disciplines, additional groups and publishers were solicited for their input. Among these are: Kevin Haggerty (Canadian Journal of Sociology), Lars Bjørnshauge (Director of Lund University Library), Peter Suber (Senior Researcher, SPARC; Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge; Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College), Jan Velterop (currently CEO of Knewco), and Heather Joseph (Executive Director of SPARC).

Although OA publishing first emerged as a “new publishing model” that many regarded as simply an experiment, it is today a mainstream approach to delivering scientific communications.  With the launch of OASPA on October 14, 2008 at an Open Access Day Celebration in London hosted by the Wellcome Trust, an important forum joined the publishing landscape.

During 2010 OASPA was approached by books publishers who were engaged with or investigating possibilities for open access books publishing. Following discussions with OAPEN, in particular, the OASPA membership application, application review process, and standing rules were adapted to provide for membership for open access books publishers from 2011.