A couple of weeks ago, Brian Weatherson had a post at Thoughts Arguments and Rants about how to reduce typesetting costs incurred by journals. Apparently, the costs associated with typesetting are one of the most substantial costs associated with running a journal, and so cutting down on these costs would have a profound impact on a journal's bottom line. One of his proposals involved making the author either typeset the article herself in LaTeX (or get a friend to do it), or else pay two hundred dollars to cover the cost of hiring a professional typesetter.
In the ensuing discussion, a bunch of people said stuff like, "I don't know LaTeX; are there any online resources that could teach me how," and "yes, this."
Nobody said what I was thinking when I read this, which was "there is no way in hell I would ever submit to a journal that will charge me two hundred dollars to publish my paper." I don't use LaTeX (I started to explain why not, but now I think that this should be its own conversation), and I'm not going to take time to learn it in the foreseeable future—I have a lot of demands on my time, and LaTeX doesn't make the cut. And I definitely don't have an extra two hundred bucks laying around for this. Two hundred bucks is a lot of money for me, and if this model were to catch on, it would transform what should be an important career success—getting your paper accepted—into a significant financial burden. Maybe established philosophers who have tenure-track jobs with funding for research could get their departments to pay these costs, but people in VAP-type positions normally have no research budget and would have to use their own money. And this cost would simply be prohibitive for graduate students.
We provide the content for the journals. They can sell subscriptions to the journal only if philosophers write papers and then offer to let the journal publish them. We yield our copyright to them. And we do it for free. We do not get paid. We do not make any money for writing these articles that we then give to the journals for publication. And that's fine—I'm not in it for the money. But they cannot start charging us for this.
Why is it that whenever anyone proposes some way to fix what's ailing the journals, it's always something that would fuck over people who are just starting out?