Open Access Affects Business Models of Large Publishers as Elsevier Acquires a Digital Commons Platform

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-08-10

As resistance to subscription deals grows, Elsevier takes over Bepress providing Open Access storage to faculty- and student-generated materials.


The recent acquisition by Elsevier of Bepress announced in early August 2017 can signify a growing accommodation by large publishers, such as Springer/Nature, Wiley, SAGE and Taylor & Francis, of Open Access as a publication model. At the same time, while this move can signify a growing corporate presence in Open Access as a university- and library-oriented solution, it is worth noting that Bepress has facilitated the outsourcing of content digitization by academic institutions, such as research result, data set, electronic journal, open textbook and archival material storage. In this respect, Bepress combines the features of institutional repositories with those of book and journal publishers, as it has an extensive list of both peer-reviewed and non-reviewed, student and narrowly focused journals in Open Access and behind pay-walls.

Thus, as a hybrid-model platform, Bepress has already developed fee-based services and offerings that capitalize on Open Access content that it hosts, which indicates that prior to its acquisition it already sported a sustainable business model. For Elsevier that continues to face multiplying demands that it accommodate Open Access as part of large-scale subscription deals it closes with universities and libraries, such as in Germany, broadening the scope of its operations to include this institutional repository makes business sense. Moreover, this take-over also indicates a wider-ranging change in Elsevier’s strategy after it has acquired SSRN, Social Science Research Network representing one of the world’s largest repositories for conference papers, pre-prints and unpublished research in both Open Access and fee-based formats especially in the fields of economics and law, in May 2016. Consequently, through these take-overs Elsevier has become one of the major global players in the field of Open Access journal publishing and institutional repositories.

By Pablo Markin

The original  blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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