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Journal Market - DOJ Economist Preliminary Report (fwd)

An interesting report about antitrust/competition issues in the publishing
market (with a focus on the market for academic journals) is now available
at the Association for Research Libraries web site.

"The Impact of Publisher Mergers on Journal Prices: A Preliminary Report"
  by Mark J. McCabe, 

[Excerpt from beginning]
"When I was asked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to consider the
potential competitive impact of a number of publishing mergers
on the market for academic journals, my initial reaction was, frankly, one
of skepticism. I thought to myself, hundreds of unique titles
exist and the number of publishers is immense. The first step in antitrust
analysis is defining the market in order to determine whether
a monopolist could in fact wield power in this market. In scholarly
publishing, doesn't each unique journal title constitute a distinct
market for the purposes of antitrust analysis? Certainly no one would
argue that articles in Brain Research could be easily
substituted for ones in the New England Journal of Medicine, much less
those in the American Economic Review. If each title
corresponds to an antitrust market, then owners of individual titles
already have the capacity to achieve monopoly returns; a corollary
is that mergers dont matter. Furthermore, even if markets are defined
somewhat more broadly, say, to include titles whose content
overlaps, the likelihood that two publishers (among dozens) would together
control sufficient content in enough subject areas to
warrant antitrust scrutiny seemed small. 

Laurel Jamtgaard