Happy Friday! This week brings another modest entry in our Big Deal Longread series; we might more accurately call this a “read,” TBH, because it’s not that long at all. But it’s still a thoughtful and thought-provoking entry in the discussion about the future of academic publishing. In “How the academic publishing oligopoly skews debates on the cost of publishing,” Moore provides some useful reminders about the diversity of publishers and publishing models out there, and the value of preserving (and growing) that diversity. He also explains how the concentration of power in the hands of just a few (mostly commercial) publishers has obscured that diversity, leading to discussions that emphasize openness or affordability without recognizing that even an open, affordable landscape could be dominated by a dysfunctional oligopoly in ways that harm researchers.
[A] reduction in costs (austerity) should not be the primary aim of the move to open access, but nor should the endpoint be mere open access to research at all costs. Instead, we should be nurturing the kinds of publishing cultures we want to see, both financially and in our publishing practices: those that value the labour needed to care for publishing and that work in harmony with research communities rather than extract from them.
Sam Moore is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University in the UK, and according to his bio, Sam has “over a decade’s experience as a publisher and researcher with a focus on open access.” Sam writes a lot about the “scholar-led” open access movement, (including a nice exploration of the meaning of that term), and this week’s Big Deal Read reflects his interest in keeping diversity and control in mind, alongside openness and affordability, as we try to shape the future of academic publishing.