Excerpt from a new book by former sitcom writer David Raether, who reflects on how he went from making $300,000 a year working on Roseanne to ending up homeless:
The worst moment is the day the sheriff comes. Two armed members of the county sheriff’s department showed up with a locksmith as we were moving out. The investor stood on the opposite side of the street as we packed and loaded a moving van. She watched us load our furniture, which we put into storage because the two bedroom apartment we managed to lease with the help of a friend didn’t have room for 4,000 square feet worth of furniture. The deputies came and talked with us to make sure we really were moving out, and we felt like criminals for spending a final few hours in the house we owned for twelve years.
Why is scientific research still stuck in a model that requires that work be published in a small number of journals owned by a small number of companies?
“Companies like Elsevier developed in the 1960s and 1970s. They bought academic journals from the non-profits and academic societies that ran them, successfully betting that they could raise prices without losing customers. Today just three publishers, Elsevier, Springer and Wiley, account for roughly 42% of all articles published in the $19 billion plus academic publishing market for science, technology, engineering, and medical topics. University libraries account for 80% of their customers. Since every article is published in only one journal and researchers ideally want access to every article in their field, libraries bought subscriptions no matter the price. From 1984 to 2002, for example, the price of science journals increased nearly 600%. One estimate puts Elsevier’s prices at 642% higher than industry-wide averages.”