The “transfer of the responsibility of paying for publication to the individual author (or the author’s funding agency or institution)” that is brought about by gold author-pays open access is, as Gary Hall notes in Pirate Philosophy, a “typical neoliberal move.” By placing researchers in a position where they have to compete for the inevitably limited amounts of funding that are available to enable them to publish on an article- or book-processing-charge (APC/BPC) basis, gold author-pays open access serves as a means of introducing yet further competition into the public system of higher education. It also establishes a commercial market for A/BPCs, and with it another way of “inflicting debt” onto the university, to set alongside that achieved by the “imposition of a system of tuition fees in England” (Hall 2016: 193, n60).
It is not surprising then that calls are increasingly being made within the open access movement for non-profit presses, projects and institutions to cooperate horizontally in order to counter the hegemony of both free market economics and commercial publishing. When it comes to actually building non-profit alternatives, however, questions of funding soon come into play. A number of interesting innovations have emerged, not least in the form of library consortium subsidy models that redirect money otherwise used to purchase subscriptions to exorbitantly priced journals. Still, the long-term financial sustainability of numerous open access initiatives currently depends on already overstretched institutional budgets. As a result, even though many non-profit projects wish to work together cooperatively, they find themselves in a situation where they are forced to compete against one other (and against for-profits) for funding from libraries, foundations, research councils and other sources.