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RE: Future of the "subscription model?"

I don't think the "subscription model" is the problem. It has 
many merits for both librarians and publishers - simplicity and 
budget/income predictability being just two. I think the problem 
is that some subscriptions are no longer providing value for 
money, but the alternative, item-by-item purchase (be they 
articles, books or chapters), is also unattractive. As Rick says, 
he needs something that is sustainable and, clearly, anything 
that doesn't provide value-for-money in the long run isn't 

Toby Green
Head of Publishing
Public Affairs and Communications Directorate

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Rick Anderson
Sent: 04 November, 2011 12:17 AM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Future of the "subscription model?"

>Rick, when your library cancels the $300,000 worth of 
>subscriptions, I'm guessing that most of that will go back into 
>subscription like-services (paying for the price increases of 
>the subs you do keep, paying for new e-resources - most of which 
>will have some kind of subscription-like component, even if not 
>for actual journals).  Would that be a fair guess? If it is, 
>then the subscription model isn't exactly eroding?

Good point, Ann. Yes, the $300,000 we "save" by cancelling some 
subscriptions will, in fact, be used up by the annual cost 
increases for those that remain. So when I offer our subscription 
cut as "evidence that libraries... are willing to substantially 
reduce and/or forego the subscription model," I guess what I'm 
saying is that whereas until recently we were willing to shore up 
the subscription model in our library by redirecting money from 
other areas to support it, we're no longer doing so. Instead, 
we're now cutting subscriptions substantially rather than ponying 
up more and more money to preserve the prevalence of that model 
in our library. As this process continues, we'll be purchasing 
dramatically less and less content under the subscription model 
from year to year -- in fact, at this rate we'll have roughly 
half as many subscriptions six years from now as we do today.

So in a real sense, yes, we'll still be paying for subscriptions 
for the foreseeable future and therefore the model itself will 
still be alive in our library. But it will be constantly 
diminishing as we continue to "substantially reduce and/or 
forego" our subscriptions. At the same time, we're actively 
looking for alternatives to the subscription model and are 
anxious to try out any that look sustainable. Right now, the only 
thing keeping me from cancelling all of our subscriptions 
wholesale is the punitive pricing imposed by publishers for 
access at the article level.

Chris, I think your follow-up question was basically the same as 
Ann's, but let me know if you need more clarification.

Rick Anderson
Assoc. Dean for Scholarly Resources & Collections
J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah