The end of the paywall →

Gendarmenmarkt Berlin

I attended the Academic Publishers Europe conference in Berlin last week. Although the topic this year was Redefining the Scientific Record – The Future of the Article, Big Data & Metrics, many talks were still revolving around Open Access and how to get there. I especially enjoyed the keynote by Sander Dekker, State Secretary at Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of The Netherlands:

How times have changed! Today, young people no longer buy CDs. Musicians are making less and less from album sales. Record stores are facing bankruptcy.

And yet money is now being made from music all over again, but this time in a totally different way. Digitization is a key factor in this. It is something that the traditional record labels have long resisted. Now they are the ones losing out. The winners are those who take full advantage of the new opportunities of the digital world, based on a completely new distribution and revenue model. Spotify is a great example of this. Thanks to Spotify, I now have access to all the new albums for the same amount I spent on a single LP when I was a teenager.

While some publishers rightfully complained that they have started embracing the digital world very early on, as opposed to the music industry Dekker refers to, I still like the analogy. The publishers are doing a lot and are, as conferences such as APE show, very interested in developing and redefining their business. However, I still believe there is some truth to the analogy. In times of self-archiving, a growing market for open access publishers, tools such as #icanhazpdf, and new impact measures, I think it is getting ever harder for the publishers to justify their steep subscription fees.

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