On one hand, I think they’re terrible. But to an extent, I get it. In a way, I understand. There are so many writers these days, and so many submissions, and not enough time. And if I’m not spending a few bucks on postage and large manila envelopes (but that feels so writerly!), I can spend them on the reading fees. I suppose that is a fair point. And we all benefit when journals have time and resources to read and edit and publish and not go under. Absolutely.
A recent trend I’ve seen is journals accepting no-fee subs up to a certain point, say a certain day during the open call, and charging after that. Others have fee-free periods and fee-based periods. I like those approaches because just as writers recognize the need some journals have for fees, these editors and publishers are saying “we get it, too. You’ll go broke submitting to as many journals as possible, and you need to submit to as many as you can, because there is so much competition (which is why we need the fees).”
It just feels like a better system. Or maybe it’s solidarity.
I’ll pay a solidarity fee.
Just not too many of them.