Alex Tabarrok writes about An Auction Market for Journal Articles (PDF). Publishers bid for the right to publish a paper. The amount of the winning bid is divided by the authors and publishers of papers cited by the paper just auctioned. Unless I’m missing something all participating journals taken together lose money unless the share of cited authors is zero and transaction costs are nil. Still, the system could increase incentives to publish quality papers, where “subsequent authors will want to cite this” is a proxy for quality.
I’m reminded a tiny bit of BlogShares (“Blogs are valued by their incoming links and add value to other blogs by linking to them”), but especially of Ian Clarke‘s FairShare, which is a proposal for speculative donations:
Anybody can “invest” in an artist, and if that artist goes on to be a success, then the person is reward in proportion to their investment and how early they made it. But where does this return on investment come from? The answer is that it comes from subsequent investors. For example, lets say that you invest $10. $4.50 might go straight to the band, $1 might go to the operator of the system, and the remaining $4.50 would be distributed among previous investors in the band, those who invested more early would get a bigger proportion than those who invested less, later-on. Of course, most people will not make a profit, but they are rewarded by knowing that they contributed towards an artist that they liked, and helped reward others who believed in that artist, and who may have brought the artist to their attention.
Under FairShare participating creators taken together and individually would make money, as payments are from without the system, driven by the generosity and greed of fans and speculators.
A system in the spirit of one or both of these proposals could perhaps help fund a voluntary collective licensing scheme of the sort contemplated for digital music, but conceivably applicable to other types of work.
If the journal market idea really could foster a self-sustaining business model it could be a boon to the open access movement. Restricting access is rather pointless when your main business concern is to get your articles cited.
I’ve rambled about open access models elsewhere.