A proposal to implement tender procedures and introduce competition between publishers in the context of national open-access consortia
Open-access transformation of scholarly publications is a declared goal of Coalition S and the OA2020 initiative and their supporting institutions. To reach a large-scale open-access transition of journals, established subscription-based journals should flip to open access. Currently, transformative agreements are favored to achieve that aim, like the agreements that have been negotiated by the project DEAL with the three biggest international publishers (Elsevier, Springer Nature, and Wiley) for several years. Transformative agreements’ design and conditions are bilaterally negotiated between publisher and library consortia. Often, previous subscription expenditures serve as a starting point for negotiations. In addition, the DEAL-Wiley Read-and-Access agreement takes over APCs for publications in pure open-access journals with a 20% discount on list price. The DEAL-Springer agreement is supposed to be signed under similar conditions.
But what can we expect after the tipping point, when transformative agreement worldwide lead to a widespread flip of scholarly journals to open access? Which actors will become important, how agreements will be shaped, which price-setting mechanisms will be applied, how will be the funding of open-access publishing organized—and finally—will we success in breaking the ever increasing subscription costs with open access, or will we be faced with a new APC price spiral?