Currently at Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBC):
- article processing fees constitute 61% of the journal's revenue (colour charges 35%, page charges 26%).
- print costs (printing, binding, paper, mailing) are 32% of expenses
MBC readers and authors currently do enjoy some of the benefits of freee access through participation in PubMedCentral after a brief 2-month delay. A full shift to OA would mean the full benefits of immediate OA, preferably libre OA with a suitable open license, such as Creative Commons - Attribution (plus, optionally Noncommercial and/or Sharealike).
There is another benefit that would address a concern expressed by authors in the MBC survey. That is, authors are concerned about the cost of page and colour charges. Because of the print version, it is very likely that authors sometimes forego including valuable material for economic reasons. In an online-only environment, adding more pages, colour figures - even audiovisuals and research datasets - does not add costs as it does in the print environment. If MBC were to drop the print edition and switch to OA / online-only, it could immediately begin to do more for authors and for readers.
According to the Association's data, only a small percentage of readers really prefer and read the print. For these few readers, there are now print on demand services. As of 2007, it was still perceived as important to publish in a journal produced in print. This may still be the case, however the impact of the current economic crisis may help to explain to members and authors why it is essential at the present time to move to new, more efficient business models. One of the concerns members had about dropping print was archiving; it might be timely to raise awareness among members of the role of PubMedCentral in which MBC participates, as an archive of the world's medical literature, carrying on the tradition of the U.S. National Library of Medicine in the online environment.
Thanks to Heather Joseph via Peter Suber on Open Access News for the link to the article and background information.
This post is part of the Essential Efficiencies and Transitioning to Open Access series.