Publishing the Philosophical Transactions The Economic, Social and Cultural History of a Learned Journal, 1665-2015"
Since it was 350 years ago in 2015 that the first scientific journal - Philosophical Transactions - published the concept of a scientific journal more or less stayed the same.
Bur especially after World War II things started to change in the commerical and publishing practices of scientific journals.
You can read about it in a report "Untangling AcademicPublishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research" by Dr Aileen Fyfe.
In a long read in The Guardian you can read about the role of Robert Maxwell and Pergamon publishers in making publishing profitable. "Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientificpublishing bad for science?"
The concept of peer review emerged and the impact factor made scientific publishing into a winning business. Pergamon became Elsevier and the profits raised to 40%.
Business seemed to flaw a bit with the digitization, but Elsevier invented the 'big deals' to make this profitable business payable for the university libraries.
With the rise of the Open Access movement there came more discussion on the organisation of scholarly publishing. Unfortunately mainly between libraries and publishers.
The general argument of the report is that it is time to look again at whether learned societies should be taking more of a role in research dissemination and maybe financially supporting it, with particular criticism of those learned societies who contract out production of their publications to commercial publishers and do not pay attention to those publishers’ policies and behaviour.
Read also the blog by Robert Harrington in Scholarly Kitchen to urge learned societies to be more critical to commercial publishers and even to move toward an open access publisher.