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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Ah, to be an academic monopolist

A hopeful story about monopoly under attack is by Julian Fisher, MD whose piece entitled Read This Academic Journal Article, but Prepare to Pay looks at the outlandishly high cost of medical journal reprints and more broadly, of scholarly journals link here.

He asks why the journals in all disciplines are so expensive and demolishes the argument that their costs are high. Authors are not paid by the publication, and the editor, normally a prestigious academic, works only for the honor. The journals ask $20-50 for reprints or require expensive subscriptions and there are lots of journals. In a limited breakthrough, "the National Institutes of Health now insists that the research they fund, when published, must be made available somewhere at no cost." Thus, that part of the government imposed monopoly has been broken. But the broad academic requirement for publication in one of those scholarly journals persists.

Fisher goes on to note, "The market has long been monopolized by mega-corporations making mega-bucks. But new business models abound. In the spirit of full disclosure, I started a not-for-profit to offer an alternative to the traditional models." That website is here

This interesting innovation is of interest to patients, doctors, and academics of all persuasions. It has been slow in coming, but there are other opportunities as well. One is the cost of textbooks. I note the price of N. Gregory Mankiw's recent rewrite of his basic economics text, Principles of Economics, "on sale" at Amazon for $199.11 with free shipping, as against the list price of $238.95.

Ah, to be an academic monopolist with what amounts to a perpetual copyright.


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