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RE: the Yale argument on open-choice

> Is it not clear, though, that price inflation is an expected 
> consequence of the subscription model?

Yes.  But for one thing, "expected" and "necessarily intrinsic to 
the model" are not the same.  For another thing, the amount of 
inflation is really what matters.  Given reasonable prices and 
reasonable levels of inflation, I'm quite sure that no one would 
be saying that the subscription model is broken.  When Nature 
raises its journal prices by 50% per year, that's a big problem. 
But it's not necessarily a problem with the concept of paying for 
what you get.

> If the research community hands over ownership/exclusive rights 
> to publishers, it is economically predictable that publishers 
> (whether commercial or not-for-profit) will charge as much as 
> they can in order to maximize their revenues. Given that the 
> academic community *really* needs access to that research, 
> there is virtually no upper bound on what publishers with 
> enough market power can get away with charging for 
> subscriptions.

True -- but we're changing the subject now.  We're no longer 
talking about the subscription model, but about copyright 
assignation and pricing.  The subscription model can work 
perfectly well without authors assigning all rights to publishers 
and without prices spiralling out of control.  (Publishers might 
not like the model nearly as much without those features, but 
that too is a separate issue.)

> Under an open access publishing model, you immediately have a 
> much more effective market. The customer (the research 
> community) can choose the publication service that offers the 
> best value, ensuring that prices are kept down.

It depends on the OA model.  The Harnad model (immediate and 
complete archiving in easily-accessible IRs) makes no kind of 
market possible, let alone effective -- it's a model under which 
the content can no longer be sold except to people ignorant of 
the fact that the content is easily available at no charge.

It may be that such a model is worth what it would cost.  But we 
need to have a clear understanding of all the costs involved in 
order to make an intelligent judgment.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries