Skip to main content

Free Content The cost of journal publishing: a literature review and commentary

Download Article:
(PDF 555.482421875 kb)


This article begins by describing the concepts of fixed, variable, marginal, average, direct and indirect costs of journal publishing. Hypothetical examples are given, to avoid preconceived perceptions and controversies about levels of cost. The examples demonstrate the impact of the levels of fixed and variable cost on the average cost per subscription, which is often the basis for subscription prices. Examples are also given to illustrate the effect of indirect costs on average costs per subscription, and the effect of the number of articles published on average costs. Then the implications of the examples on libraries and on the author-side payment model are examined. These hypothetical examples are followed by evidence in the literature of fixed costs, variable costs due to print reproduction and distribution, and indirect costs. Finally, the term 'economies of scale' is defined, and examples are given as to how economies of scale are achieved.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-04-01

More about this publication?
  • Editor in Chief: Pippa Smart
    North American Editor: Judy Luther

    Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.

    Learned Publishing articles are available free online to members of ALPSP and SSP.
    ALPSP members: log in to If you do not have a password contact
    SSP members: log in to the Member Center using your membership username and password. Further information

    Learned Publishing will be moving to Wiley-Blackwell as of January 1, 2016. Please contact the publisher at for information on how to continue access to this title.
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more