Making journals profitable and valuable

An ingenious grad student has come up with an idea to make journals more relevant to their field while making them financially viable.

The "problem" he is trying to fix is that of commercially successful scientific publishers who provide marginally useful content while charging hundreds and even thousands of dollars per year for subscriptions to their periodicals.

By suggesting that publishers pay authors who are cited in a work, this proposal envisions an ecology of relevance and financial stability. See the whole idea here.

The core problem here is that it requires successful publishers to trade in their working business model for an experimental one.

In Civil War history, we have an entirely different problem: there is one journal, and no successful business model for academic publishing.

How would you copy the commercial science journal model over in our world?

Perhaps by publishing a low-tech black-and-white "digest" at a high subscription rate, charging as much as the library market can bear. You would list all the ACW articles and their subjects appearing in the last month (in the glossies and in general trade magazines); you'd list reviews of ACW books published anywhere; you'd list new book titles, subjects, authors, and publishers; and you would run at least a few important scholarly articles per issue.

The way to safely start this off is for a reasonably solvent publisher to launch such a periodical as a house organ, a promotion of the larger enterprise, as was done by Savas just a few years ago with its "Civil War Regiments" periodical. (Am not sure if those articles were peer reviewed.)

I notice that LSU's Civil War Center has been running a book review magazine, something LSU Press seems not to be involved in. A university-sponsored scholarly journal or digest would do us infinitely more good than a book review magazine.

(Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.)