Rundkvist, M. 2007. Scholarly Journals between the Past and the Future: The Fornvännen Centenary Round-Table Seminar, Stockholmm 21 April 2006. Konferenser 65. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien.
It’s a measure of the quality of this book that I have delayed putting up a review until I have thought it could get the audience it deserves. The volume brings together papers by nine editors of journals across Europe, each with their own perspective on what the future holds for publishing. Their opinions are diverse and provocative, but even where some assertions are demonstrably wrong they highlight misconceptions about publishing which need to be tackled.
The first paper is ‘Scholarly Open Access Journals and Libraries’ by Jan Hagerlid. This can be an overlooked aspect of the Open Access debate, with academics concentrating on the content rather than the medium. Hagerlid raises some interesting points highlighting that the aims even of of traditional and conservative scholars do not necessarily align with those of publishers. For example he notes that the transition to electronic subscription would have mean the end of the inter-library loan, had the publishers been granted what they demanded. He also argues that it would be wrong to treat publishers as a monoculture. The big publishers and their habit of bundling subscriptiosn with ever increasing prices threatens the subscription base of the independent journals. If the subscription model continues to hold into the current century many smaller publications will either be bought out or disappear. The paper provides an excellent summaries of what Open Access means and why it is an important issue. It also serves as a reminder that the changes ahead, however they develop, are not trivial and will need collaboration with librarians if access of any sort to research is to continue.