Speculate on Creators

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.

3 Responses

  1. David Zetland says:

    As I wrote the paper, the journals DO share the money with authors, but do NOT lose money since they also receive revenue from subscriptions and other (old and hopefully new) sources (ie, your comment of money “from without the system”). You and Alex hit the main points, which were to give a better notion of value to articles and to open access even further. There are other details in my paper.

  2. I meant that participating publishers taken together lose money from their participation in the auction market. Of course they may have other income sources; that seems irrelevant.

  3. […] Speculate on Creators. Such schemes have remained speculation or failed for good reasons, eg high coordination costs, low marginal impact. On the other hand, simple sales and donations work well. Useful optimization is along the lines of decreasing costs of those simple transactions, not the introduction of complex intermediation. […]

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