Conflagration coming

I'm on record predicting a toll-access journal bloodbath.

Anecdotes are not data, one dead swallow doesn't mean the end of summer, and so on… but I just heard yesterday about a second small independent toll-access journal whose sponsors may be discussing winding it down.

This isn't the scenario I was quite looking for; I expected a stable-fire or two among small journals at the big publishers. That isn't happening yet. Some big publishers are still posting record profits, so the squeeze isn't on. Others are going on buying sprees hoping to trade on exclusive access.

I do think those record profits are endangered, if the mad rush of salesfolk I keep hearing about from my librarian friends is any indication at all. I don't know how the exclusive-access trick will play out, but my bet would be on "unhappily."

It does make sense, though, that small independent journals will find themselves in even more trouble than they're already in. They've always been first on the chopping block in libraries. Not a few have poor or no electronic-publishing strategies (by which I mean more than merely placing journal content online; usage data is not optional these days if one cares to sell to most libraries). If their subsidies are now endangered (which seems to be where current problems are arising), so are they.

Right now, these journals are just kindling. I mean no offense; many of them are excellent. Their deaths, however, aren't going to raise much comment.

I'll hold to my prediction for now, though. There's a conflagration coming.

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