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Re: Future of the "subscription model?"


I do believe that the future holds all of your alternatives but 
a), I cannot imagine that subscription will survive as the major 
business model.

I does, of course, depend on how you count. You yourself suggest 
setting a threshold of 25 % of journals as an indicator of 
whether oa publishing has become a large-scale business model. 
But is the number of journals or publishers the interesting 
number? In my opinion, no. The interesting number is the number 
of articles, which has a rather skewed distribution between 
journals. And the largest journal in terms of articles, is oa - 
PLoS ONE. With the number of prospective mega-journals that 
recently have launched you'd need less than 1 % of journals to 
contain more than 25 % of all articles - if they all succeed and 
grow to the same size as PLoS ONE.

Your alternative d) seems very interesting, with mega-journals 
the journal isn't a navigational aid anymore. (Actually, it isn't 
a journal anymore, either - it is a database or repository of 
articles.) If all oa content is published with a CC BY license, 
third parties - including present publishers - can establish 
navigational and quality indicating services on top of the 

The only sure answer is that a lot will happen in the coming 
three to five years - probably.  :-)

Jan Erik

Jan Erik Frantsvag
Open Access adviser
The University Library of Tromso
e-mail jan.e.frantsvag@uit.no


-----Opprinnelig melding----- From: 
owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu via Armbruster, Chris
Date: 1. november 2011 01:18
Subject: RE: Future of the "subscription model?"

To date, the subscription model seems alive and well and still in 
the best interest of many publishers, societies and libraries. We 
are still waiting for evidence that libraries (and their 
institutions) are willing to substantially reduce and/or forego 
the subscription-based model. On the part of the libraries, one 
would like to hear more about how they envision their (future) 
role if they cancel subscriptions and move money to open access 
publishing. Most large publishers have set up open access 
publishing operations, and although some of them and many 
societies they are publishing for, might hope that open access 
publishing remains limited, it would seem up to the buyers 
(libraries/institutions) to prove that open access publishing is 
not just an additional revenue stream (provided by funders on 
behalf of authors), but the new/desired standard. What evidence 
do we have? How much APCs are 'new' money and how much are 
'converted' library funds?

Even if open access publishing would become a large-scale 
business model (a threshold could be set, e.g. 25% of journals 
with JIF or in Ulrich's), and particularly if it was based on 
models such as PLoS One, PMC or SSRN, then there would be some 
scope for new subscription-based models to help readers navigate. 
Content curation at SSRN, as subscription-based service, has 
already been mentioned. More will follow.

The interesting question would seem to be how the 
subscription-based model will evolve...

a)as main business model, that as growth slows (or even shrinks 
somewhat?) is supplemented by article-processing charges as new 
stream of income?

b)as business model for premium content (high rejection rate, 
large editorial contribution, mag features etc.) while the bulk 
of the scientific record is published in open access (at 
USD/EUR/GBP 1000-2000)?

c)as bifurcated model, with big deals for institutions, and new 
models (flatrate, 99c PPV) that reach more and new readers 
(hospitals, industry) through the syndication of content and its 

d)as new business model for sorting through the large mass of 
open access content and delivering to users what they are looking 

Chris Armbruster