Tired of hearing from me yet? :)
I just attended an ASERL-sponsored Webcast about SCOAP3, a fairly new initiative to change the model of scholarly communication within the field of High-Energy Physics (HEP). The presenter was Salvatore Mele, Project Manager for SCOAP3 and Head of Open Access at CERN in Switzerland (think Large Hadron Collider and the end of the world). The basic idea of SCOAP3 is for libraries worldwide to pool the money they currently pay for HEP journals and pay centrally for peer review, with the stipulation that all publications become open access. Publications will be put up for bid by the SCOAP3 governing body, with publishers essentially becoming contractors. SCOAP3 is currently seeking pledges of support from libraries so that they can begin the bidding process.
According to Dr. Mele, very few HEP researchers actually read articles from HEP journals; they read pre-prints in open-access repositories. HEP journals exist for peer review and “officialdom.” I asked what the advantage to libraries would be, if we end up paying the same amount we already pay for subscriptions. Dr. Mele made a fairly convincing argument that under the SCOAP3 model, we would continue to support faculty by paying for the peer-review process. He also asserts that the bid process will link price to quality, as publishers compete for rights to publish. Another aspect is that the bids will be based on a per-article price (not per-journal), so journals could not decrease the amount of content and still raise prices at the same time.