“One of many ideas being discussed is basing fees upon what is affordable locally, rather than pricing them at an identical level for customers irrespective of their geographic location. Precedents exist, such as the tiered pricing of vaccines….
The APC barrier effect suggests that “APCs impede researchers with fewer resources in publishing their research as OA”. Transformative Agreements (TAs) and Read & Publish (R&P) deals, which may base their pricing on APCs, can bring similar problems of affordability to those of APCs themselves. The expense of subscriptions too, even for the wealthy, has been discussed at length, and their cost is one of the drivers behind advocacy of a move to OA. Affordability is an issue whatever the business model.
Waivers are the usual fix, but they can be problematic. Their implementation varies, and they may be perceived as patronizing or undermining the dignity of those receiving them (“Waivers are a charity; why can we not pay in our own way with our own money?”). Waivers are typically applied based on World Bank income categories, but, as our analysis of its data shows, these may not match affordability….
At first glance, exploring a PPP [Purchasing Power Parity]-based pricing model is attractive. It strikes at the heart of affordability, by accounting for participants’ ability to pay. However, as we have seen, it is not that simple. A move to PPP, in most cases, causes price increases for many (some of which are unexpected) to subsidize the others that need more affordable options. This may result in some controversial changes. That impact would be magnified if publishers attempted to adjust prices upwards overall to counteract market value shrinkage.
A PPP based pricing system, while attractive in principle, would need to be carefully implemented in practice. Prices or pricing tiers would need to account for more than the raw numbers. Optics would need to be carefully considered. There will be winners and losers. And, like William Gibson’s view of the future, they will be unevenly distributed.”