As I understand it, Elsevier is not the only publisher with absurd subscription prices, but it is being targeted because it is the largest one. Are there any similar initiatives against other publishers? (Springer, Wiley, Taylor and Francis, ...) If not, why?
The Elsevier boycott seems to be the largest one of its kind. I understand the argument to be:
- A boycott is easier to maintain against a single publisher than against several publishers at once, since it limits the cost to the participants while, if anything, making the boycott more painful to the publisher.
- There's a short list of likely candidates for a single boycott---probably just Springer and Elsevier, and perhaps Wiley, as the largest and most expensive academic publishers. Elsevier had been particularly active in lobbying on some related issues (SOPA, PIPA, and the Research Works Act), and had recently been involved in several publishing related scandals (the ones involving Chaos, Solitons, and Fractals, and the Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint Medicine).
(I personally found these arguments strong, but plenty of people didn't, and some people have refused to participate in the boycott precisely because they think such a boycott should be more widely targeted.)
Example of boycott against Springer leading to the creation of an freely accessible scientific journal: the Journal of Machine Learning Research:
The journal was founded as an open-access alternative to the journal Machine Learning. In 2001, forty editors of Machine Learning resigned in order to support JMLR, saying that in the era of the internet, it was detrimental for researchers to continue publishing their papers in expensive journals with pay-access archives. Instead, they wrote, they supported the model of JMLR, in which authors retained copyright over their papers and archives were freely available on the internet.
The journal Machine Learning was published by Springer.
A number of people have called for boycotts against JSTOR after Aaron Swartz's death.
Elsevier isn't indeed the only publisher to have high prices, some examples: