Innovation and Market Discipline in Scholarly Publishing


  • Rowland Lorimer Editor, Simon Fraser University



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


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.

Author Biography

Rowland Lorimer, Editor, Simon Fraser University

Professor Emeritus, Canadian Institute for Studies in Publishing, Simon Fraser University