After the PRISM fiasco, it may be time for the Association of American Publishers to consider a new initiative: CIA (Change Instead of Annihilation).
CIA would have a single goal: to develop new business strategies so that AAP members could survive and thrive in a scholarly communication system where open access prevails. The AAP doesn't have to embrace open access to launch CIA—CIA can be a contingency plan. However, CIA will fail if its participants do not take the underlying premise that open access can succeed seriously, and CIA will require intense brainstorming that lets go of long-held beliefs about conventional publishing models.
To that end, why not let the barbarians at the gate in and have lunch? Who better to bring fresh perspectives than open access advocates? After all, open advocates are not generally anti-publisher—they just want to change publishing models to support open access. If Elsevier, Wiley, and others can do it, so be it.
It may sound crazy, but ask yourself this: Who do you want to be if open access gains enough momentum to trigger the collapse of conventional publishing models, the guy with a plan or the guy without a plan? It looks to me like Elsevier is starting to think outside of the box with initiatives such as OncologySTAT and Scirus, and Elsevier has always been a tough, smart competitor in the publishing marketplace. If the day of reckoning comes, how far behind Elsevier do you want to be?
Which brings us to why the AAP may never do CIA. Having an open access plan is a competitive advantage, and publishers may not want to share that advantage. But, that doesn't mean they can't have their own internal planning process, even if it's clandestine.
So, is it time to dance with the devil?