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RE: Secret pricing (RE: Response from Ted Bergstrom to Ann Okerson)

Right, Rick. (It being understood that there are honorable exceptions to
our strictures.)

I think this one of the many examples that many libraries have generally
not acted responsibly in the management of the funds entrusted to them.  
They have purchased in the absence of need, they have continued
subscriptions in the face of evidence of lack of use. They have, as Rick
says, paid prices in ignorance, even when it put them in an obviously
unfavorable situation.

They have signed multi-year contracts to avoid the need to look at their
needs afresh each year. They have failed to take advantage of what
flexibility they may have to exchange titles within such contracts.

As I see it, the proof of this is that the cost and usage data for each
library is not pubically available. Those entering into deals and jointly
promising to keep the facts secret, can be presumed to have a very good
reason to do so.
It would seem reasonable to start by obtaining full information from the
public university libraries of open-record states. The sort of database
proposed by Phil Davis is the way to go. I say this on the admittedly
unproven assumption that if we all know the facts, we would all act more
appropriately. Fortunately, those responsible for our funding will also
see the data, and this may prove the best incentive to fair dealing.

I predict that such publication, if general, would result in the drastic
change of the manner of paying for publication of scholarly research,
because the present way would collapse if exposed to the open air.

Dr. David Goodman
Associate Professor
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu on behalf of Rick Anderson
Sent: Wed 11/9/2005 5:50 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Secret pricing (RE: Response from Ted Bergstrom to Ann Okerson)
> In the same way, librarians are reluctant to share pricing information
> (and willfully accept confidentiality clauses) if they believe if they
> are getting a "good deal" from the publishers.

Which, if you think about it, is really pretty silly.  If we all agree to
keep our pricing secret, how does any individual library know that it's
getting a better-than-average deal?  It seems equally likely that you're
getting a worse-than-average deal.  After all, everyone can't get a better
deal than everyone else; if Library A is getting an artificially low
price, then somewhere there's a Library B whose price is higher than it
would have been if the pricing were standardized and publicly known.  
Sales reps want us all to think that we're the Library A, of course -- but
if prices are secret, we have no way of knowing that we're not actually
the Library B.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries