First there was Bloomsbury starting an Open Access academic publishing programme for monographs. Now we see that Springer is buying up BioMed Central, which publishes nearly 200 open access scientific journals. See Peter Suber’s comments on this.
I am sure that Springer are not intending to close down BMC (well 95% sure!). I agree with Suber that the really interesting aspect to this acquisition is that the big commercial publishers are now begining to feel their way into a situation in which giving away content, making it freely available, is actually good for the profit-oriented business which also sells subscriptions to some highly prized content. And provides other services. Its what those other services are that is perhaps most unclear at this point, though BMC is clearly doing quite well from its author-generated fees. I am sure that publishers have scarcely begun to think about the ways in which making content freely accessible may be an effective and strange-as-it-may-seem profitable way of publishing. Locking it all up as tight as possible will not work well. Publishers need to go to bed with this mantra buzzing in their brains: the marginal cost of access is approaching ….. zero.