"Abridgment as Added Value"

Peter Suber has published "Abridgment as Added Value" in the latest SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

Here's an excerpt:

Imagine that an open access (OA) journal could generate revenue by selling abridgments of its full-text OA articles. Imagine that the revenue even made it unnecessary to charge author-side publication fees. That would be a supremely elegant business model, if only it could be made to work.

BMJ has made it work for more than 10 years, and next year will take the idea even further.

All BMJ research articles are full-text OA in the digital edition of the journal. The print edition, which is toll access (TA), contains 3-5 page abridgments of each research article. BMJ calls this system ELPS (for "electronic long, paper short"). The OA edition of the journal charges no publication fees, and the full-text research articles have no word limit.

Nine months ago, BMJ introduced even shorter, one-page abridgments called picos, and published selected articles in the pico format rather than the longer 3-5 page format. The experiment has been so successful that BMJ announced last month that it will phase out ELPS and go all-pico. Starting in January 2010, all BMJ research articles will have pico abridgments in the TA print edition, and the full texts will still be no-fee OA in the digital edition.