Stanford’s Robert Kaplan, arguing in Times Higher Education for bringing academic publishing in-house [paywalled, alas], cites the author-excluding APC:
academics often can’t afford those high open access fees – especially faculty outside the sciences, the wealthier institutions and the developed world. This makes it more likely that journals will fill their pages with papers by authors who have money, as opposed to authors who have good ideas. Pay to play is simply the wrong model for academia.
Kaplan’s right that the current joint-custody arrangement—non-profit universities and commercial publishers—is odd, exploitative, and ripe for reversal. The article is understandably light on details, but one promising avenue—with some real momentum—is to link up the existing, nonprofit repository infrastructure with a post-then-review publication model. In Björn Brembs’ variation on the idea, publishing services like copy editing would be provided on a procurement basis.
A full divorce between academia and commercial publishers sounds utopian, for sure, but it’s worth imagining, in various schemes like Kaplan’s or Brembs’, if only to chip away at the sense of inevitability.