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RE: Future of the "subscription model?"
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- Subject: RE: Future of the "subscription model?"
- From: "Brooks, Robert" <email@example.com>
- Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 18:41:51 EDT
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Rick's post does remind me of his remarks at the Charleston Conference last year. I think the "pay for what you need" approach to electronic journals is a rational one for a library to take, particularly during difficult financial times. My question to the readers of this list revolves around the effect this would have on scholarly communication, and I hope you will humor me as I think this through. Traditionally, "value" or "impact" of an article is determined by the academy, yes? Publishers present a collection of articles in the form of a journal which libraries subscribe to and make accessible to their patrons. Academics filter through these articles, choosing to use certain articles in their research and passing over others. By virtue of the citation, some articles then become more "valuable" than others. How does this work in the environment Rick describes? Do the publishers take on the responsibility for determining value and only publishing articles THEY expect to be the "best" or most valuable to academics? Do libraries determine value by only buying the individual articles THEY believe will be used by their patrons? My hunch, though, is that the expectation would be for publishers to continue to produce a full range of articles and for libraries to keep providing access at least to the abstracts for a full range of articles, and instituting some type of PDA model to purchase the full text for "valuable" articles using tokens or a similar purchasing model. This makes a certain amount of sense to me, however the challenge would be that the price for the "valuable" articles would inevitably have to subsidize the cost of publishing the less valuable articles, correct? Is this model preferable to libraries? I recognize the dilemma and the numerous challenges currently facing libraries. My concern, I suppose, would be if the article based approach to purchasing content resulted in a significant reduction in how much research actually gets published. What impact might this have on the ability of faculty to get published and on research as a whole? What solutions can we collaborate on that address Rick's point of view and also promote scholarly publishing and communication? Hob Brooks Senior Library Sales Manager SAGE Publications (805) 410-0907 -----Original Message----- From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Rick Anderson Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 8:19 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Future of the "subscription model?" >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