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Re: Open access pricing

A more likely scenario is that Elsevier or other large publishers will
have two parallel programs:  the traditional reader-pays model with
restricted access, and the open access author-pays model.  The two
programs will be knit together by a common search engine (hence the bigger
the collection, the greater the value--another reason why ongoing
consolidation is inevitable as sure as water runs downhill), adding value
to both and likely encompassing public domain documents as well (in effect
coopting the public domain).  The author-pays model is really a vertical
version of Web hosting; the publisher sells disk space to authors.  One
can imagine publishers providing the "front end" in their areas to
anonymous Web hosting facilities.  Think of the way Amazon provides IT
infrastructure for various merchants and you will see the basic economics
of the idea.

In such a scenario commercial open access publishers will compete for
authors in a variety of ways, price among them.  Some people will buy
(that is, pay) on price alone, just as some people fly Southwest Airlines
rather than United.  But there are other ways to compete.  A publisher may
be able to generate more traffic or readers to a paper in any number of
ways, not the least being aggregating search with proprietary journals.  
Authors will pay more for the aggregation, the better search engine, the
ability to link to more sources and to be linked to, a situation I have
termed in another context "the processed book"
(http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_3/index.html).  So we shouldn't
expect prices to increase without correspondent increases in value.

I outlined this scenario at a conference at the National Academies last
year.  After the session ended, a prominent STM publisher (nice guy, but,
no, I won't mention his name without his ok) ran up to me to ask if anyone
was doing this (that is, developing aggregated parallel programs).  I
said, "You are."  And he said, "Yes, soon."

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <brs4@lehigh.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2004 1:55 PM
Subject: Open access pricing

> (cross-posted)
> Regarding the statement below, the following thought of course occurs to
> many, so it might as well be made explicit for discussion. If Elsevier
> moves into the open access arena, will this pressure commercial
> enterprises such as the BioMed Centrals of the world to raise *their*
> prices, just to survive?
> Brian Simboli