Innovation and Market Discipline in Scholarly Publishing

Rowland Lorimer


Background: In the face of extensive, developed-world library endorsement of open access (OA) and not-for-profit publishing, large commercial journal publishers are, paradoxically, increasing market share by means of economies of scale brought about in part by ownership concentration.

Analysis: While the market success of commercial journal publishers may benefit from ownership concentration, it is argued that market-oriented innovation has also contributed to their market success. A review of the very lively state of market-oriented innovation in journal publishing and usage metrics is undertaken and three innovation proposals derived from commercial magazines are introduced.

Conclusion and implications: The adoption of reader-focused features of commercial journals and the adaptation of the mobile-oriented strategy of commercial magazine publishers that respond to the modern digital information environment and mindset are recommended as strategically sound. Partnering with low-cost promoting, OA-oriented libraries may hobble the ability of not-for-profit journals to maximize their value to researchers.

Originality/value: The weakness of OA as a constraining publishing strategy is brought forward and compared to readership building through innovation focused on usage.


Altmetrics; Author social networks; Commercial journal publishing; Concentration of ownership; Demand-driven publishing; Economies of scale in journal publishing; Library publishing; Market discipline; Mobile mindset; Monograph distillations

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