Do we need to move from communication technology to user community? A new economic model of the journal as a club

Authors : John Hartley, Jason Potts, Lucy Montgomery, Ellie Rennie, Cameron Neylon

Much of the argument around reforming, remaking, or preserving the traditions of scholarly publishing is built on economic principles, explicit or implicit. Can we afford open access (OA)?

How do we pay for high‐quality services? Why does it cost so much? In this article, we argue that the sterility of much of this debate is a result of failure to tackle the question of what a journal is in economic terms.

We offer a way through by demonstrating that a journal is a club and discuss the implications for the scholarly publishing industry.

We use examples, ranging from OA to prestige journals, to explain why congestion is a problem for club‐based publications, and to discuss the importance of creative destruction for the maintenance of knowledge‐generating communities in publishing.