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RE: Varmus in the Chronicle (RE: Copyright and OA: New York Times and Chronicle of Higher Ed

Marc is right in that input-paid open access publishing is a business
model. It will have to be if one doesn't want science publishing to be
altogether dependent on subsidies, which can be notoriously fickle.

But not *just another* business model, implying that it's just trading six
of one for half a dozen of the other.

Even in the unlikely event that open access would end up costing the
academic community the same, in the aggregate, as the old-line
subscription model does, the gains of an open access model are
incalculable. Not only would *everybody* have barrier-free access to the
published material and be able to use it freely, there would also be
derivative benefits such as increased effectiveness of research, and with
it, increased effectiveness of every Euro, Dollar or Yen spent (often from
tax) on research.

That said, I don't think open access will be as expensive as the
subscription model. It is easy to see why it is likely that the open
access model will allow a fair profit for smart publishers, but, due to
its built-in competitiveness, not the sort of egregious profits/surpluses
that some publishers (tax paying as well as tax-exempt) now enjoy on the
back of what is basically a monopolistic model. Those who do not unduly
exploit their monopoly, and whose fair profits/surpluses are also not
currently unnecessarily depressed by an inefficient operation, will find
that an open access model is quite capable of bringing them a similar
level of financial returns as the old-line subscription model does.

Jan Velterop

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Marc Brodsky [mailto:brodsky@aip.org]
> Sent: 28 January 2004 03:47
> To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu; ucylfjf@ucl.ac.uk
> Subject: Re: Varmus in the Chronicle (RE: Copyright and OA: New York
> Times and Chronicle of Higher Ed
> I think many folks are missing the point.
> Author-paid (or author's institution-paid or author's funder-paid) OA is
> just another business model. Of course learned societies will adopt it if
> their authors want it enough to pay for it.
> The publishing expenses are likely to be similar to the those under the
> subscription model. Publishers will not have to bill and collect
> subscription money (although I am sure they will still market their
> journals, witness TV ads for PLoS), but they will now have to bill and
> collect author money.
> Of course commercial publishers, smart and responsive business people 
> as they are, would also adopt it, if it is viable.
> Does anyone think that more of the publishing dollars would not go to 
> the cleverest, boldest publishers just as it has done in the past 
> under the subscription model?
> Most learned societies today are not charging more for subscriptions 
> and, as Mr. Friend says below, are not likely to charge more to authors. 
> Does that mean authors will always select the cheapest? Do they ask 
> their libraries to select the cheapest subscriptions? Where will the 
> readers go? Will they care which freely available OA journal charges 
> authors less?
> The next few years of OA will be an interesting exercise in marketing 
> and the economics of the market, if author-paid OA survives.
> Marc H. Brodsky
> Executive Director and CEO         E-mail: brodsky@aip.org
> American Institute of Physics       Phone: (301) 209-3131
> One Physics Ellipse                       Fax: (301) 209-3133
> College Park, MD 20740-3843