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Re: Future of the "subscription model?"

>If publishers detect a pattern in which subscriptions are 
>cancelled and single-article sales are substituted for them, 
>then the price of single articles will rise.

Well, exactly. I fully expect publishers to do whatever they can 
to continue realizing constantly-increasing revenues from their 
library customers. It's only reasonable that they should do so, 
especially given that they've been able to secure increasing 
revenues every year for the past few decades. The problem is that 
they're going to fail, because throughout those past decades, the 
curves of library budgets (which have tended to increase annually 
at low-single-digit rates) and journal prices (which have tended 
to increase at rates of 9-10% per year) have been headed for an 
inevitable and permanent divergence. Libraries have been warning 
publishers about this since as long ago as the 1970s; the 
standard response has been "Yeah, you keep saying there's a 
pricing crisis, but then you renew all your subscriptions." Now 
the divergence has come. Most of us can no longer redirect money 
from other budget areas to cover extortionate subscription price 
increases, so now we're cancelling, and some of us are doing so 
in great chunks. Publishers (in the aggregate) aren't going to be 
able to continue realizing annually-increasing revenues from 
libraries anymore for the same reason that you can't realize 
blood from a rock. Charging more for articles isn't going to help 
publishers at all, because the money they want simply isn't there 
to be had.

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