My brain just exploded: CUP pushes “article rental scheme”

With fake publishers all the rage on Twitter, I was sure that this press release from Cambridge Journals was some kind of joke.

Cambridge Journals has announced a brand new Article Rental scheme, which will see single academic research articles being made available over a 24-hour period at a significantly lower cost.

More brilliance from FakeElsevier cooked up to make fun of the absurdity of journals owning scientific papers. I could see their tweet immediately:

FakeElsevier: Can’t afford to pay £50 to “own” a copy of an article you want to read? No fears! We’ll rent it to you for 24 hours for £3.99!

But, sadly, this is NOT a joke. I hardly know where to begin. So I’ll start with the explanation offered by Simon Ross, Global Journals Director, Cambridge University Press:

Article Rental is a direct response to the increasingly high cost of full article ownership through the subscription, document delivery and pay-per view routes that non-subscribers have to use in order to access to an article.

Increasingly high cost? Do you know what the cost is going up? BECAUSE YOU GITS ARBITRARILY RAISED THE PRICE!!!! Don’t try to act like there forces outside of your control that you are rescuing people from, or that the pay-per-view price represents any kind of rational calculus.

CUP arbitrarily decided how much it would cost for people to “own” a copy of an article. They set this price ridiculously high. Nobody is buying. So instead of cutting the price to something sane (like free) they offer a ridiculous “no print, no save” 24 hour options and herald it as an awesome discount. It would be funny if it weren’t so repulsive.

And if this insanity doesn’t convince you that we need to abolish subscription-based journals and the oft-abused publisher control of the scientific literature it entails, then perhaps this piece of information will:

From our analysis of user traffic on Cambridge Journals Online, we see millions of non-subscribers turn away as they can only access the article title and abstract information. We can now provide an alternative low-barrier access route that will allow these readers to access the research that interests them.

Publishers have for years argued that there is no need for open access because most people who want access already have it through their institutions. But CUP is clearly saying this is not the case. Millions of non-subscribers turned away? MILLIONS!! I suspect they be just as unwilling to spend $6 for 24 hours as they were $25 or $50 or whatever they were charging before. There is no reason any of these millions should ever be denied the chance to read any article, or charged even a half-pence for the opportunity. We need open access. And we need it now.

This entry was posted in open access, PLoS, publishing. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.