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Finances again

This is a bit more on the ongoing interest of Nature in PLoS’s finances. Peter Suber posted this snippet from the CEO of Macmillan’s Blog with his responses. I’m representing Peter’s post in it’s entirety below the fold. There is also a nice story entitled Creative Destruction in the Library in “The Economist” this week on OA matters.

From Peter Suber’s Blog:

    Richard Charkin is the CEO of Macmillan, the owner of Nature. Yesterday he posted a note on his blog about the recent Nature article on PLoS’ finances (thanks to William Walsh):

    “…And finally an excellent article in Nature which analyses the financial standing of the most important open access organisation The Public Library of Science. What the article shows is that the ‘author pays’ model for scientific publishing is likely to be unsustainable without charitable support. I don’t think that scientific publishing should be a charitable enterprise. Its innovation and growth has been driven by commercial market pressures to improve which have always been the best guarantee of high-quality service. The alternatives nearly always end in bureaucracy and protection of the status quo.

Peter Suber’s Comments.

  1. The Nature article shows nothing of the kind. PLoS only talked about charitable support for two of its seven journals, and the article didn’t even pretend to examine any other OA journals from any other publishers. For example, the Hindawi OA journals are already profitable. –And of course Charkin doesn’t compare OA business models to the present subscription model, which the University of California (among others) has called “incontrovertibly unsustainable“.
  2. Charkin slides from business models to quality without any evidence or argument. He seems unaware that PLoS Biology has the highest impact factor of any journal in ISI’s category of general biology.
  3. Honestly, who has a stronger interest in protecting the status quo, open access journals or their critics? Who’s trying to preserve the status quo right here, right now?

I’ll close this post with the final words of the Economist article I mentioned:

Whatever the traditional publishers might hope, open-access does not look in imminent danger of perishing“.

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