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Re: Future of the "subscription model?"

I like Rick Anderson's approach. He knows the direction in which 
his university's purchasing policy should be heading and he has 
started to implement that approach, while recognising that the 
full effect of moving away from subscriptions cannot be realised 
overnight. The only point on which I think Rick is on the wrong 
track is in looking towards purchase at the article level as a 
replacement for lost content. As he points out, that model brings 
punitive pricing. Much more effective in providing large-scale 
single-article access will be an open access model, which 
provides users with the content they need - and no more than they 
need - at an affordable price for the world-wide academic 
community. What is holding back the the gradual change to an open 
access model is that many librarians are not willing to make that 
initial change Rick has made and start moving away from the 
subscription model. Rick is looking at a change to 50% of today's 
subscriptions over a six year period. Most libraries are 
committing to their current level of subscriptions for the next 
three or five years without any hope of making the kind of 
gradual (and beneficial) change the University of Utah has 
started to make.

Fred Friend

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Anderson
Sent: Thursday, November 03, 2011 11:17 PM
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