May 19, 2022

David Lewis Asks, “Is Scholarly Publishing Like Rock and Roll?”

Here’s a new article by David Lewis, Dean Emeritus, IUPUI University Library.


Is Scholarly Publishing Like Rock and Roll?


IUPUI ScholarWorks


This article uses Alan B. Krueger’s analysis of the music industry in his book Rockonomics: A Backstage Tour of What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About Economics and Life as a lens to consider the structure of scholarly publishing and what could happen to scholarly publishing going forward. Both the music industry and scholarly publishing are facing disruption as their products become digital. Digital content provides opportunities to a create a better product at lower prices and in the music industry this has happened. Scholarly publishing has not yet done so. Similarities and differences between the music industry and scholarly publishing will be considered. Like music, scholarly publishing appears to be a superstar industry. Both music and scholarly publishing are subject to piracy, which threatens revenue, though Napster was a greater disrupter than Sci-Hub seems to be. It also appears that for a variety of reasons market forces are not effective in driving changes in business models and practices in scholarly publishing, at least not at the rate we would expect given the changes in technology. After reviewing similarities and differences, the prospects for the future of scholarly publishing will be considered.

Direct to Full Text Article
24 pages; PDF.

See Also: Interview: “A Few Minutes With: ACRL Academic/Eesearch Librarian Of The Year David Lewis” (March 7, 2018 via IU/IUPUI)

See Also: More Papers by David Lewis Available via IUPUI ScholarWorks

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.