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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 sustainable.

I agree that when subscriptions provide poor value for money we 
have a problem, but it's actually not a problem of 
sustainability. It's absolutely possible to sustain a poor-value 
arrangement indefinitely, as long as the price is right. 
Sustainability is a function of price, not model.

The problem with the subscription model is simple: it's 
fundamentally irrational. It requires me to pay a year in advance 
for a series of bundles of articles, many of which my patrons 
don't actually need. At the right price that model can be 
perfectly sustainable, but that doesn't make it any less silly as 
a model.

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