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Re: Post Brussels : Elsevier and Australian STM debate 'sprouts'

The quote doesn't say that prices have fallen, just that the effective price per access has fallen, which is different. Many Australian libraries have the Elsevier "Big Deal". As this gives you access to all Elsevier's titles for what you used to pay for a subset of these, plus a premium, you do get access to more titles for your money. Big Deals have some negatives, but it is undeniable that you get more titles. You may not want them all, but you get them (and your users will use even the ones you don't think you need). Therefore you get more access for each dollar spent compared to the print only era, which is what Elsevier are claiming.

Additionally, once you have the Big Deal (and this is true of most publishers, not just Elsevier) your downloads rise steadily year on year. I haven't been involved in this side of the library for a few years so I can't say if it plateaued at any point, but when I did the stats from 2001-5 it did keep going up, and at a higher percentage rate than Elsevier put their prices up. So the dollar cost per article access (i.e. the amount we paid Elsevier divided by the number of articles we accessed) went down every year.

Now there are lots of caveats in this - for instance we bought a lot of the backfiles as one off purchases, which increased our downloads (as we had more articles available) but didn't increase our annual subscription costs. So that distorts the figures. But at a basic level Elsevier's statement is true - the cost per article downloaded has declined in raw dollar terms (and therefore also in real terms) over the past few years. My experience is certainly in line with their claims on this point.

Why "cheaper" is supposed to be better than "free" is a whole other area of debate of course ;)

David Groenewegen
ARROW Project Manager
Monash University Library
Monash University
Victoria 3800

Heather Morrison wrote:
Are prices falling for libraries?

According to the Elsevier report to the Australian commission,the
effective price paid per journal accessed has fallendramatically... (see
1C of the Elsevier report, Public Supportfor Science and Innovation)

Librarians - comments?

For links and commentary, see Colin Steele's original post at:

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent
the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the
Simon Fraser University Library.

Heather G. Morrison