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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Update on Blackwell in Norway

If you remember, back in January four Norwegian university libraries rejected the whole package of 778 Blackwell journals because of "unacceptable conditions and price increases" (more details here and here).

Yesterday Blackwell announced that the problem has been resolved.  Excerpt:

Blackwell Publishing and the four Norwegian university libraries of Bergen, Oslo, Tromso and Trondheim are pleased to announce that they have reached agreement to renew the libraries' subscriptions to Blackwell journals and the Blackwell journal collections....

The new three-year the libraries flexibility in determining which of [Blackwell's new journals] to add to their license....

[Steven Hall, Journal Sales and Marketing Director at Blackwell] added that a key issue for academic libraries in Norway is the 25% rate of VAT on online subscriptions; as there is no VAT in Norway on printed subscriptions this imposes a very substantial increase in costs on libraries wishing to make the move to online-only subscriptions. "We can understand that this level of taxation on electronic journals is an enormous additional burden on Norwegian libraries," he said, adding that there is little that Blackwell and other publishers can do to mitigate its effects, beyond joining with others in lobbying efforts to bring VAT on electronic publications down to the same level as VAT on printed publications.

Professor Helge Salvesen, Library Director, University of Tromso Library, said: "...Both parties were quite eager to find a solution and therefore willing to compromise. From the libraries' point of view the new license agreement is acceptable, even though the Norwegian VAT rate makes it rather expensive for us."