“Time and time again, academic publishers have managed to create the impression that publishing incurs a lot of costs which justify the outrageous prices they charge, be that US$11M p.a. for an Elsevier Big Deal subscription or an article processing charge (APC) of US$5,200 for a Nature Communications article.
This week, again, an academic publisher, SpringerNature, reaffirmed its readers that they have huge costs that necessitate the price they charge. This time, the publisher repeated their testimony from 2004 that “they have high internal costs” that amount to €10,000-30,000 per published article….
This means that what the publishers are referring to isn’t their costs for publishing at all, it is the price that they charge the public for all of their services.
It is well established that the cost of making an article public with all the bells and whistles that come with an academic article is between US$/€200-500. This is the item one would reasonably call “publication costs”. Because they are so low, this item cannot be the main reason for the price of a typical Nature branded article. SpringerNature performs additional services, some of which are somewhat related to the publication process, other not so much….”