it is not open access per se that is threatening Elsevier (High Energy Physics since long have had almost 100% open access uptake, so critical mass has long been reached in this special field, quite different from other physics areas), but that they are loosing the battle for authors, possibly due to their reluctance to support SCOAP3. As I wrote, they have lost between 30% to 50% in submissions from authors during the last 4 years for their HEP journals. With such a massive reduction in size, prices also had to come down. In the new open access scholarly publishing market, journals will compete for authors even more than now. SCOAP3 certainly raised the awareness for both the scientific community's expectation to fully convert these journals to OA and the unsustainable prices that had risen to absurd record prices. It is clear that subscriptions are now under even more pressure because of the global economic crisis that especially hit american libraries very hard.
High energy physics (my old discipline) is certainly in the vanguard, but is probably just the first of many to follow this path. Go, open access.
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09 August 2009