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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: March 2013

8 - Journal finances


“My other piece of advice, Copperfield”, said Mr Micawber, “you know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

(Dickens, 1849)


No matter how well edited a journal is, how many subscribers/readers it has, or how high its impact, a journal cannot continue to exist unless the income it derives covers all of its expenses. Not only that, but a sufficient surplus of income over expenses must be generated if a journal (or a list of journals) is to survive in the long run. A surplus is needed to cover the inevitable discrepancies between financial projections and actual results, to provide seed money for future projects, and to build a reserve to weather downturns. In addition, learned society publishers need surpluses to fund their other activities, and university presses to support loss-making but nevertheless worthwhile publications; commercial publishers need to generate a sufficient return on investment to keep investors happy. In the current online environment, a surplus is even more necessary in order to cover both continuous product development and the need to convert content as new standards of online presentation and delivery develop. With a surplus of just one eighth of 1%, Mr Micawber was operating on a very thin margin.

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The Handbook of Journal Publishing
  • Online ISBN: 9781139107860
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Carroll, Lewis, 1871, Through the looking glass, London, Macmillan
Chesler, Adam, and King, Susan, 2009, Tier-based pricing for institutions: a new, e-based pricing model, Learned Publishing 22: 42–9 ()
Dickens, Charles, 1849, David Copperfield, London, Bradbury and Evans
Friend, Frederick, 2011, Open access business models for research funders and universities, Knowledge Exchange Briefing Paper ()
Grossman, Theodore, and Livingstone, John Leslie, 2009, Portable MBA in finance and accounting, 4th edn, New York, Wiley
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Further reading
King, Donald W, 2007, The cost of journal publishing: a literature review and commentary, Learned Publishing 20: 85–106 ()
King, Donald W, and Alvarado-Albertorio, Frances M, 2008, Pricing and other means of charging for scholarly journals: a literature review and commentary, Learned Publishing 21: 248–72 ()
Page, Gillian, Campbell, Robert, and Meadows, Jack, 1997, Financial aspects, in Journal publishing, Cambridge University Press, 270–300
Tenopir, Carol, Allard, Suzie, Bates, Benjamin J, Levine, Kenneth J, King, Donald W, Birch, Ben, Mays, Regina, and Caldwell, Chris, 2011, Perceived value of scholarly articles, Learned Publishing 24: 123–32 ()
Ware, Mark, and Mabe, Michael, 2009, The STM report: an overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing, Oxford, International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers, 33–6 ()