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

Wow, Kent gives me a lot to answer for here, so I'll try to be concise:

>          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.

That's certainly not what I meant, and I'm pretty sure it's not what I
said. I said that it's in a library's best interest to help vendors stay
profitable, not that it's a library's responsibility to do so.  My point
is simply that libraries are not usually well served by marketplace
consolidation.  Libraries can hasten such consolidation by uniting to
force prices below the profitability threshold.

>  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.

I know a little bit about the profitability about one of those companies,
and I'm willing to bet that the company that bought it was the more
profitable of the pair.  Larger companies buy smaller companies for all
kinds of reasons -- to acquire talent, for example, or to move into new
market segments -- that have nothing to do with the profitability of the
target company.  In fact, one thing that can make a small company
attractive is its lack of profitability: that can make the acquisition
more affordable, and if the larger company thinks it can turn the smaller
one around by acquiring and changing it, the acquisition makes perfect

>          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.

Actually, behaving in that way can be a very effective (if usually
illogical) way to move the invisible hand of the market.  Imagine if all
the libraries in California got together and decided that they were going
to insist on paying list price for all university press publications.  
Would that be in the libraries' best interest?  Probably not.  Could it
affect the market?  Probably so.  By the same token, if all of the
libraries in California got together to insist on 20% discounts on all
books from university presses, isn't it safe to say that the only vendors
who could compete would be those who could afford to take a loss on UP

> >(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.

If no consortium is trying to drive prices for its members as low as
possible, then so much the better.  If there are consortia that are doing
so, then I respectfully suggest that they're acting against their own
long-term interest.  I'm certainly not trying to "tar" anyone with a "brush"
of any breadth whatsoever.

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