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RE: the Yale argument on open-choice

I agree that there will continue to be differentiation in the
journal publishing market.

While forms of research evaluation other than journal-metrics
will probably grow in importance, for the forseeable future high
prestige, high rejection rate journals (such as our own Genome
Biology) are going to be in demand, and (given that their
cost-per-article is typically significantly higher), they will
probably charge more.

Are these journals still under competitive pressure? Absolutely.
If authors can get the same level of prestige and service
elsewhere at a lower cost, they will take that option, surely?

Cell, Science and Nature compete for papers all the time. Imagine
a hypothetical scenario where Science decides to make its
research articles open access with no author charge (deciding
that its ad revenues and the subscription revenues for its
non-research content are more than adequate to cover its costs),
while Nature decides to introduce an author charge of $10,000 (in
an attempt to milk the value of its brand for all it is worth).
Would Nature feel no competitive pressure in that situation to
reduce its charge?

Airlines offer one analogy. Ryanair/Easyjet and other low-cost
carriers compete head-to-head to get you from A to B for the
lowest possible price. Meanwhile, business class fares are
perhaps 10 fold higher than this, but this does not mean that
business class fares are immune from competition, as new low-cost
business airlines like Eos and Maxjet demonstrate. I would agree
that price competition is *more* intense at the lower end of the
market, but having a premium brand certainly doesn't give you the
freedom to charge whatever you like, in the way that having a
monopoly on a vital resource does.


  -----Original Message-----
> [mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of
> Anthony Watkinson
> Sent: 26 March 2007 02:03
> To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> Subject: Re: the Yale argument on open-choice
> Matt
> I can see what you are saying about the subscription model
> though it seems to me (as we have seen) that there are a number
> of constraints now on maximimising revenue but I cannot see
> that the "author-pays" model does intrinsically prevent
> inflation. If a journal that rejects 90% of submissions sets
> author rates reflecting the cost they will be high - will they
> not? I am assuming that this hypothetical journal has a high
> impact factor and it is generously prestigious. What is to stop
> its owners, whoever they are, charging more "than they need" in
> order to use the surplus for whatever needs they have?
> I well remember when BMC was launched that the $500 charge then
> was seen as the maximum and it was said (not by you) that they
> expected to be undercut and that $300 was possible. We have
> (have we not?) had a lot of inflation in your author charges
> and in the author charges of other OA journals.
> I am not suggesting that a satisfactory model is not possible
> but I do not understand how the theory you invoke works out in
> practice.
> Anthony
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Matthew Cockerill" <matt@biomedcentral.com>
> To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
> Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 10:24 PM
> Subject: Re: the Yale argument on open-choice
>> Is it not clear, though, that price inflation is an expected
>> consequence of the subscription model?
>> 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 . The natural solution to this is surely for the
>> research community *not* to give away the ownership/exclusive
>> rights to the research.
>> 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. This kind of
>> 'substitutability' generally doesn't exist with the
>> subscription model - hence the problem of journal inflation.
>> Matt Cockerill
>> BioMed Central