Jill Cousins
Partnership or Competition: Can the Academic Publishers work with Open Access?

There is some naivety about what it takes to publish an article online and many of the costs of doing so are skirted over. The larger academic publishers are all too aware of these costs, many of them having entered into 2nd or 3rd generation online publishing systems. This investment has yet to really pay off in most instances and is one of the reasons publishers are cautious about new business models such as open access. The question might therefore be, not can the academic publishers work with open access, but is it economically viable.

The competitive landscape changes what is economically feasible and it is likely that as the publishing system develops that a number of different models will be tried and tested and Open Access is one of these, but whatever publishing model is used it will have to be sustainable and not reliant on long term subsidies or special funding.

Overall the commercial case for Open Access still has to be proven. It could end up costing the tax payer more, equally it could be a fairer trade than the current price hiking model of many a mainstream publisher. This paper looks at what publishers need to be doing in order to properly evaluate if Open Access is viable for academic publishers and if they will be partners in the model or compete for authors and market share directly against the open access movement or whether some hybrid model will result.

It will cover the perceived threat, according to academic publishers, from the noise over open access to the re-purposing of library budgets. Then it will look at the range of responses a publisher might consider and the application of an evaluation model to understand the best course of action, within the current and future markets, for particular journals. In the end for Open Access to truly compete with the current models employed by the academic publishers it must be able to cover the costs of publishing from the peer review process to maintenance of expensive hard and software and this is true whether it is embraced by the publishers or operated by the universities and authors themselves.

Bielefeld University Library - last update: 01/12/2004