Well, it would seem that the editorial board of K-Theory has “pulled a Topology” (I’m really hoping this becomes an actual phrase) and resigned en masse.
Since we seem to be the last in the mathematics blogging community to have noticed, let me offer some editorial content to make up for our tardiness: good for them. Whether you believe that there is a place for for-profit publishers in research mathematics, or like me, you think they are doomed by technology changes (the capital investment required for a journal has dropped so much that they’re just not necessary), I think all mathematicians should see this as a positive development. Why?
Because developments like this, where simply changing the name of a journal can slash its price by half or more should make it clear just how extraneous the expensive publishers have become, both to mathematicians and to the publishers. Either the publishers will respond, by figuring out a way to add more value to their product above what unpaid mathematicians contribute (I’m not sure what this would be, but I’m not a publisher), or mathematicians will respond by quitting editorial boards. Though, I have to wonder how long publishers have before this process hits a tipping point, at least in topology. Mathematicians, like every other group of people, have a bit of a herd mentality, and the interconnection of editorial boards could well speed the process up even more. It could be that scholarly societies and non-profit publishers will soon start picking up editorial boards as fast they can be absorbed. They might already be, behind the scenes. Presumably, editorial boards have been working behind the scenes to get their new journals set up before resigning, so there could be more already in the works that the great unwashed masses (yup, that’s us) haven’t gotten word of yet. Only time will tell.