Ars Technica has a piece on PeerJ, an open-publishing peer-reviewed journal that is trying a few different things than most open-access scientific journals. The price for publishing in most such journals tends to be over $1,000, but PeerJ plans to allow researchers to publish one paper per year for life for $99 per researcher, or $259 for lifetime privileges to publish papers as often as they want. Unlike costly private journals, PeerJ will be free for all to read.
PeerJ’s publisher, Peter Binfield, sees it as an opportunity to experiment with a different business model, and to build not just a journal but a community of peers who will review each others’ work. To cut costs, the journal will be entirely electronic, using Amazon’s S3 service to host content and serve it to users. It will also cut out the news and commentary usual to journals, focusing strictly on presenting and reviewing papers.
It looks like a very interesting model, and time will tell whether it sinks or floats. But traditional publishers who’ve built communities around their work, such as Baen, haven’t done so poorly. And the low prices plus prior publishing chops of its founders will attract at least some would-be paper publishers. And certainly a lot of academics have expressed frustration at how costly journals have become lately. We’ll just have to see how it goes.