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Re: Information Access Alliance Takes Action on Proposed Wiley Acquisition of Blackwell
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- Subject: Re: Information Access Alliance Takes Action on Proposed Wiley Acquisition of Blackwell
- From: "Joseph Esposito" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2006 17:39:12 EST
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The library community is understandably concerned about the acquisition of Blackwell by John Wiley. Some perspective:
The chatter among people who are involved with the buying and selling of companies is mostly to the effect that Blackwell did not fetch a premium price. It sold for 2.7 times revenue, a discount to the going market price of 3-3.2 times revenue. (Revenue is not profit, by the way.) Why the discount? Perhaps because Blackwell's journals business consists in large part of society journals, journals that Blackwell publishes admirably but does not own outright. There is leverage here for the library community.
While nothing is going to stop various organizations from working to prevent the merger on antitrust grounds, with a Republican administration in office, one that approved the acquisition of Web CT by Blackboard, it seems unlikely this deal will be stopped. (What European regulators do is another matter.) Activists, however, may find it more productive to lobby society publishers to press the combined companies to hew to progressive trade practices. These publishers, after all, have other places to go with their journals when the currect contracts expire. The point is not that libraries should not fight for their interests; rather the point is that the best fight is a winnable one, with clearly defined objectives. Think about Iraq.
As a friend noted to me, a principal driver for these mergers is the need to get more influence with library consortia, whose fundamental structure favors the largest publishers. Consortia commonly start a year's negotiations with the biggest players, get the best deal they can, and then work down the list of vendors from there. By the time small publishers get a hearing, there is no money left. Consortia could alter the economics by reversing the process, by starting with the smallest publishers. This assumes that libraries want small publishers, though I have not seen any evidence of that.
To state this another way, the mergers of publishing companies (which will continue) is a direct, rational response to the structure of the marketplace, including the purchasing patterns of academic libraries. To influence the mergers, change the structure of purchasing.
And let's not forget that Wiley and Blackwell are both outstanding publishers. Surely there is something to be said for that.
On 12/5/06, Liblicense-L Listowner <email@example.com> wrote:
Of possible interest. ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2006 15:44:58 -0500 From: ARL Communications <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Activities and Programs of ARL <ARL-ANNOUNCE@arl.org> Subject: Information Access Alliance Takes Action on Proposed Wiley Acquisition of Blackwell INFORMATION ACCESS ALLIANCE TAKES ACTION ON PROPOSED WILEY ACQUISITION OF BLACKWELL John Wiley and Sons recently announced its plans to acquire Blackwell Publishing, a publisher of scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals, for a price of $1.08 billion. This increase in concentration in an already concentrated market is cause for substantial concern on the part of the library community. The combined company will control more than 1,200 titles, many of them scholarly society journals. The Information Access Alliance (IAA), representing the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the American Library Association, the Association for College and Research Libraries, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Medical Library Association, SPARC, and the Special Library Association, wrote to the US Department of Justice on November 29 asking that they act to issue a second request for information from the two companies and review the market and the merger. The IAA letter to the Department of Justice is available on the Web http://informationaccess.org/wiley.blackwell.pdf. The IAA is deeply concerned that this transaction will exacerbate market dysfunctions and result in further reduction in access to critical research information that fuels the entire higher education and research enterprise. Both John Wiley and Sons and Blackwell Publishing currently use bundled pricing models; a recent study by ARL gathered data from its member libraries documenting that bundling practices reduce customer choice, hurt small publishers, and create barriers to entry (see http://www.arl.org/newsltr/245/bundle.html). Information on publisher mergers and related antitrust issues is available on the Information Access Alliance Web site http://www.informationaccess.org/. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Kaylyn Hipps Managing Editor, Web Content Association of Research Libraries 21 Dupont Circle NW #800 Washington DC 20036 tel: 202.296.2296 x103 fax: 202.872.0884 ####
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