The primary function of journal publishing is to distribute knowledge. @fuchschristian says Open Access academic publishing can follow a variety of models.
The question is not if Open Access will be the future of academic publishing, without a doubt it will be, but which model of Open Access will be the future, as there is not just one, but several ones.
In the so-called green model of OAJ corporate publishers release articles after 6-12 months for OA publishing.
In the gold model, articles are immediately published online and there are author fees. The commodity logic is just transfered from readers to authors, who pay for getting published!
In the diamond model, articles are published open access without the commodity logic. These journals are non-profit, non-commerical and non-commodified and make the articles available based on a non-commercial Creative Commons License or a similar license.
Regular corporate academic publishing a) exploits the free labour of academics, b) commodifies academic knowledge, c) is injust and unfair because those who cannot pay or are not part of a rich university do not get access, d) is racist and imperialist because poor readers and universities in developing countries are excluded from access.
The “gold model” of OAJ results in new capital accumulation models. My experience is that those who run such models tend to undermine peer-review: they tend to publish most articles just for the profit-sake. The author fees are often very high and when you are not rich or not part of a rich unversity or do not have large research projects, then you are excluded from publishing. This model creates a two-class structure in publishing, it is an expression of class divisions in academia. It is also again racist and imperialist because scholars in developing countries tend to be excluded.
The only model that I consider appropriate, democratic, fair and just is the diamond model of Open Access Journals. If you ask me, then this should be the future of academic publishing. The model can also be applied to academic book publishing and there are already a few publishers around focusing on this model. But of course this model that strengthens the academic public sphere and democratic access to knowledge needs a support infrastructure, it is very important to look at political economy here and not to be idealistic: If this model should be the future – which is an at the moment undecided, political and normative question – then diamond model journals need public funding and general funding schemes need to be implemented. This means that public money needs to be dedicated to this task. If this is not then, then academic publishing will remain as undemocratic and closed as it is today. There is a potential for change, we’ll see if it will be realized or not.
Open Access Journals and Capitalism: An Interview with Christian Fuchs | Simon Schöpf and Dimitris Masvoulas | May 24, 2012 | fuchs.uti.at at http://fuchs.uti.at/901/.