Sustaining Scholarly Publishing: New Business Models for University Presses: A Report of the AAUP Task Force on Economic Models for Scholarly Publishing


Within the scholarly communications ecosystem, scholarly publishers are a keystone species. University presses—as well as academic societies, research institutions, and other scholarly publishers—strive to fulfil our mission of 'making public the fruits of scholarly research' as effectively as possible within that ecosystem. While that mission has remained constant, in recent years the landscape in which we carry out this mission has altered dramatically.

The expertise residing within university presses can help the scholarly enterprise prosper in both influence and impact as it moves ever more fully digital. However, the simple product-sales models of the twentieth century, devised when information was scarce and expensive, are clearly inappropriate for the twenty-first-century scholarly ecosystem.

This report (a) identifies elements of the current scholarly publishing systems that are worth protecting and retaining throughout this and future periods of transition; (b) explores business models of existing projects that hold promise; (c) outlines the characteristics of effective business models; (d) addresses the challenges of the transitional period we are entering; and (e) arrives at recommendations that might allow us to sustain high-quality scholarship at a time when the fundamental expectations of publishing are changing.