In scholarly publishing, adoption of an Open Access business model entirely redraws the map. All at once, customer service for authors swells from a tiny island to continental proportions. Rivers of subscription revenue may run dry, but they are replaced with countless streams of article processing charges (APCs).
“Competition today really is around the authors,” observes Caroline Sutton, publisher and cofounder of Co-Action Publishing, speaking with CCC’s Chris Kenneally from her office in Oslo, Norway. “Scholarly publishing has always been about attracting good content, obviously. But today, [with authors responsible for paying APCs], that’s where we make our money.”
Founded in 2007 as one of the first Open Access scholarly publishing houses, Co-Action boasts a portfolio of scholarly journals spanning a range of subject areas. A Ph.D. from Uppsala University in Sweden, Sutton recently served as the first president of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, and now is chair of OASPA’s Policy Committee. She says that Co-Action is confronting the realities of Open Access daily.
“In a subscription world, you’re selling access. In an Open Access world, obviously, we’re not charging for access, so we have to really re-think what is it that we’re delivering,” Sutton explains. “As we know, the default cost of things we find online is typically zero. What is it, then, that we’re asking people to pay for? Because of course, we do have costs. On the editorial side, we work together with society [and its] editors to develop the journal, to think about the content, and what directions we might take.”