I’m not a business analyst with my eye on the scholarly publishing industry, but if I were, I’d sound an awful lot like Claudio Aspesi being interviewed by Richard Poynder.
I can’t speak to Elsevier’s internal organizational issues, but the rest of Aspesi’s words ring true to me. Libraries have kicked the serials can as far as it will go. There is no more money now, and I don’t believe more is on the horizon; if anything, less is.
I do believe that there’s room for the big publishers to trim operational costs by cutting journals left and right, and I expect them to try it. I don’t know how that possibility fits into Aspesi’s thoughts; my own thought is that this phenomenon may well signal a “march upmarket” (in disruptive-innovation terms) for gold open access, as at least some abandoned journals and their constituencies look for new homes.
Curious about the future for your favorite large-publisher journal? Read Aspesi, and think.