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RE: Nature Journals: User Name and Password (Super ID Access)

         I definitely think Chuck should yell at Rick over this message.
It offers a new take on the nature of capitalism:  it is the
responsibility of the purchaser/consumer to assure that the seller
receives a fair price because one cannot expect a seller to determine
that.  Moreover, this bit of "let the seller beware" suggests that
"smaller" companies merged with "larger" because the smaller companies
were insufficiently profitable. Translated, a large company sees a small
company that is less profitable and decides to buy it (perhaps to reduce
its own earnings?)

         In a rational market, I would assume that big companies swallow
smaller companies because they see definite advantages (in terms of
income, profits, and/or customers).  Rather than accept Rick's theory that
Academic and YBP would still be independent if they were more profitable,
I would assume the opposite.  Perhaps if Academic and YBP hadn't appeared
so attractive in terms of revenue and customers, Blackwell & B & T
wouldn't have been willing to pay such a premium as to prompt the owners
to sell and those companies would still be independent.

         To look to basic economic principles, without claim to expertise,
I know of no principle that suggests that I can move the invisible hand of
the market by deciding not to work in my best interests and to maximize my
returns. Nor that it my function as a purchaser to assure that a seller
receives a fair and adequate price.  Rick seems to imply that vendors are
unable to this for themselves and that libraries must assist them.

         I also think that he offers a straw man in alleging:

>(by, say, forming consortia for the specific purpose of driving prices as
>low as possible)

         I have no idea as to which consortia he is referring.  If he has
specific consortia in mind, these should be specified rather than tarring
"consortia" with such a broad brush.  As a member of a consortia that
pioneered a collective agreement with one of the jobbers, I can state that
"driving prices as low as possible" was not even considered and that
prices in general were only in the mid-range of the purposes.

         kent mulliner, ohio university libraries


At 05:44 PM 9/25/00 -0400, you wrote:
> > Surely, profit -- or loss -- of a publisher should not be the concern of a
> > librarian or subscriber <...>
>Chuck Hamaker yells at me when I say stuff like this in a public forum,
>but I can't resist: Actually, I think it's very much in the best interest
>of libraries to help ensure that publishers and vendors stay profitable.
>When libraries act with only their short-term economic interests in view
>(by, say, forming consortia for the specific purpose of driving prices as
>low as possible) they find that (surprise!) small and medium-sized vendors
>are driven out of the marketplace, leaving only very large, deep-pocketed
>firms -- witness the recent consolidation among academic booksellers.
>Then we complain about vendor mergers.  Personally, I really wish YBP and
>Academic had been more profitable; then maybe they'd still be independent
>entities in the marketplace, helping us keep Blackwell's and B&T honest.
>The best interests of libraries and their users are not well served by a
>blindness to basic economic principles.  (I'm not saying, of course, that
>we should never negotiate prices; we have to spend wisely.  But the blind
>and headlong pursuit of discount can have unintended consequences.)
>Rick Anderson
>Electronic Resources/Serials Coordinator
>The University Libraries
>University of Nevada, Reno
>1664 No. Virginia St.
>Reno, NV  89557
>PH  (775) 784-6500 x273
>FX  (775) 784-1328