The Open Access approach is on the whole complementary to traditional publishing. It utilizes both new technological developments and their wide proliferation to ease the publication process for authors, and the availability of research material to society in general.
The realization of open access need not be at odds with traditional publishers, whose business should not be affected, as long as they keep pace with changing trends. Quite a few traditional publishers have begun to imbibe aspects of the open access culture, usually to their benefit. For example, the Nature Publishing Group has started Nature Precedings, a service designed to provide an outlet for sharing research results prior to formal publication and claiming priority on specific results.
The increasing relevance of open access journals is related to the steeply rising cost of traditional journals, developments in technology and the desire for easier access and a wider audience. With the emergence of open access, it is now possible to not only have peer-reviewed research articles (Open Access Journals) but also data, results or articles as they are obtained, prior to peer review (Open Access Repositories or Archives). The time lag between research and its dissemination has thus been shortened.
As a consequence, traditional publishers have also had to prune their publication costs and find ways to adhere to shorter timelines. This has contributed to an increase in their overall effectiveness. Open-access journals have imbibed a lot from the established policies and practices of traditional publishers.
Thus, both traditional and open access publishers can develop in parallel, and there need not be conflicts related to subject areas and clientele.
For example, the development of the arXiv repository, initially targeted at physicists, has not had a negative effect on the subscriptions of two major physics publishers, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics Publishing. Both open access and traditional publishers will need to evolve with changing times and technologies to retain, develop and improve their relevance in publishing research work.