[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Future of the "subscription model?"

Fred is quite right that the bigger publishers so dominate the 
library market that smaller publishers are always being squeezed. 
I have lost count of the times librarians have said to me they 
would love to buy a journal of ours but because so much of their 
funds are going to a certain publisher, there simply isn't 
anything left over. Libraries need to grasp that the more Big 
Publishing dominates the market, the more demanding it will 
become, and for that reason it is in the interests of libraries 
to do what they can to support smaller publishers, to encourage 
diversity in the supplier base. Moreover, smaller publishers, 
having to be nimble to survive in lop-sided markets, are the 
people who are more likely to come up with innovative titles, to 
quickly latch on to developments in technology which merit the 
starting of a new journal: another good reason for libraries to 
give their support.

I would wholly agree with Fred's remark that smaller subscription 
publishers offer titles of high academic value and are not 
getting their fair share of the cake, but I would disagree with 
his inclusion of OA publishers. My prediction is that OA is a 
train wreck waiting to happen, that the scholarly communications 
landscape in 25 years time will be littered with broken links, 
journals that lasted only a couple of years before the amateur 
publishers got fed up with an unrelenting and unrewarding 
exercise: unretrievable research. Will our successors thank us 
for that? Is that any answer to the problem Big Publishing has 
created for both libraries and small publishers?

Bill Hughes
Multi-Science Publishing

----- Original Message -----
From: "FrederickFriend" <ucylfjf@ucl.ac.uk>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:16 AM
Subject: Re: Future of the "subscription model?"

> Joe,
> Yes, there are thousands of publishers but we know that control
> over the titles perceived to be "must-have" titles is
> concentrated in the hands of a very small number of extremely
> powerful publishers. A very high percentage of library
> expenditure goes to those publishers, making normal market
> competition ineffective. The tragedy is that the situation is
> getting worse, as libraries are renewing the big deals with those
> very powerful publishers for three or five-year periods instead
> of diverting funds to other subscription publishers or to OA
> publishers. Small subscription publishers and OA publishers offer
> titles of high academic value but they are not getting a fair
> share of the cake. Some subscription publishers are offering
> deals with zero percentage price rises, but because of the heavy
> commitment libraries make to the high-cost publishers, those good
> deals may not be taken up and the reasonable publishers will
> continue to lose out. As you point out "it's no skin off the nose
> of the publisher whose materials you continue to purchase". This
> is why for the sake of smaller publishers as well as for many
> other reasons, many of us see OA as the only solution likely to
> introduce any real competition into research publication. I
> believe in the market, but the market is just not working as it
> should.
> Fred Friend
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Joseph Esposito
> Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 11:52 PM
> To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> Subject: Re: Future of the "subscription model?"
> Rick,
> I agree and disagree.  You are absolutely correct that libraries
> cannot continue to put up with price increases.  (I note that you
> call them "extortionate.")  No argument with this at all.  But
> you are talking as though publishers were a single entity.  They
> are not. There are thousands of them (and the numbers keep
> growing). Furthermore, they do not compete with libraries.  They
> compete with each other.
> It is true that if all publishers raised their prices, libraries
> could not pay the freight.  But an individual publisher can raise
> a price and get away with it, provided that that publisher has
> materials that are central to a library's collection.  To fund
> that purchase, a library will cancel another publisher's journal
> (we agree on that). But it's no skin off the nose of the
> publisher whose materials you continue to purchase.  Heck, it's a
> win for that publisher because the publisher who lost out may
> exit the market.
> I am not defending or attacking this situation.  I am simply
> trying to explain it.  I have written about this before at the
> Scholarly Kitchen:  http://j.mp/eEwmzo.  The cries of librarians
> are unheeded because they don't affect the economics of the
> winning publisher.
> Of course, for a publisher to be a winner, whether with or
> without high prices, it takes an absolutely outstanding editorial
> program.
> This also raises the question of what libraries can do that would
> be effective, but it is clear in any event that complaining about
> the situation does not work, however warranted those complaints
> might be.
> Joe Esposito