Scientific Publishing: Not Seductive, Not Glamorous, But Very Profitable

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The media business is very seductive and glamorous, and people and companies get involved in it for all kinds of non-economic reasons. One of the lessons the Dream Team teaches is that if you're focused strictly on economics, you have to un-seduce yourself and deglamourize where you allocate your time and capital.

Case in point: scientific publishing. Not seductive, not glamorous, but in the first six months of 2009 Elsevier, which is the medical and scientific publishing division of Reed Elsevier (RUK), earned operating profits of 32%. And many of the journals Elsevier publishes are very expensive (they may have gotten too expensive, but that's another story). If you can convince people to pay a lot of money for your product, and you get to keep 32% of what they pay you, then you have a good business.

This article by Michael Clarke of the Scholarly Kitchen explains why scientific publishing is such a good business, so good that it has not suffered the upheavals that other forms of publishing have.