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Re: Future of the "subscription model?"
- To: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Re: Future of the "subscription model?"
- From: Rick Anderson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2011 20:19:16 EDT
- Reply-to: email@example.com
- Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org
>What do you all imagine as the future of >the "subscription model" for purchasing academic library >collections? Is it alive and well and growing or is it on its >way out, supplanted by memberships, open access, and a growing >variety of other options for obtaining publications, particularly >electronic? Here's my (probably very predictable) $.02: As a model for acquiring scholarly articles, I think the subscription's days are numbered. Why? Because it's fundamentally irrational, and models that are fundamentally irrational tend not to do well in the long run. When a library subscribes to a journal, it's saying to the publisher "I'll pay you up front to send me all the articles published under the rubric of Journal X for a year, regardless of how many of those articles turn out to be of any actual use or interest to my patrons." In the print environment we had no choice but to buy articles that way, but in the online environment that level of waste isn't necessary anymore, and our shrinking budgets are making it much harder to justify. It makes much more sense to let pay only for those articles that actually get used. There are several problems with that approach, one of which is that we're functioning in a scholarly economy that has been significantly shaped by the necessary inefficiencies of the print environment. Publishers can't make as much money selling only the articles that people want as they can selling articles in 12-month bundles. This means that to the degree that the marketplace for articles becomes more rational and efficient, those publishers that have benefitted (however unintentionally) from the inefficiencies of the old system are going to suffer. That's a real problem, and I'm not sure what the solution to it is. But I'm pretty sure that the long-term solution will not involve libraries paying for articles their patrons don't want, because the money to do so just isn't there anymore. --- Rick Anderson Assoc. Dean for Scholarly Resources & Collections J. Willard Marriott Library University of Utah email@example.com Office: (801) 587-9989 Cell: (801) 721-1687