Smaller independent and society publishers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the economies of scale around production, technology, and (most important) institutional sales that can be brought to bear by a large publisher. If you are a society that has been self-publishing for many decades, such effects may appear as only a recent headwind in a long publishing tradition. This headwind, however, is most likely not a temporary zephyr but rather a permanent fixture of the STM and scholarly publishing landscape, and one that will only increase in intensity. To understand why, it is helpful to look at the two vectors on which scale operates in STM and scholarly publishing: horizontal and vertical. While horizontal scale has long been the province of commercial publishers, society publishers are typically organized to take advantage of vertical scale. The headwinds are presently blowing along the horizontal plane, from the perspective of the society publisher.
The question addressed here is not whether we in the academy should “take back publishing” from the commercial scholarly publishers, but rather what the options for doing so might be, and whether any of those options seems feasible at the moment.
A new study suggests a weakening of the relationship between a journal’s impact factor and the articles published therein. An unorthodox analysis and unwillingness to share data for validation purposes raises serious questions about how seriously to take this study.
The question of when print will end is often framed as if it is a natural occurrence, an evolutionary question, or the likely outcome of a sporting event, rather than a business decision that publishers may revisit on a regular basis.
Maligned though it often is, the Big Deal for journals is likely to get bigger, marginalizing the offerings of smaller publishers.