Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, March 23, 2009

Will TA publishers risk cancellations with standard price increases this year?

Jennifer Howard, Publishers Face Pressure From Libraries to Freeze Prices and Cut Deals, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

The publishers' hall at the recent Association of College and Research Libraries conference, held in Seattle in mid-March, was a study in give-and-take: how much publishers such as Elsevier and Oxford University Press will give in this lousy economy, and how much budget-strapped librarians can take.

Libraries are some of the biggest customers for academic and commercial publishers. Salespeople from some bigger vendors in the supersize category of Ebsco, Elsevier, and ProQuest did not want to speak on the record, but did say they had heard sob stories from customers. "They're worried," a representative for one of the larger commercial publishers said. "People are hoping publishers are going to freeze our pricing next year."

Will they? That's not the sort of thing publishers shout from the rooftops. At the conference, a wait-and-see attitude prevailed....

Now more than ever, publishers feel they must walk a fine line. "We want to make sure we're not undervaluing our product, but we don't want to be seen as harsh," explained [David A. Price, an accounts manager for network and consortia sales at Oxford University Press]. "We're trying to be mindful of tough times."

He has heard from colleagues in the business that some publishers are likely to hold prices flat in response to the economic downturn, or even lower their prices....

For now, Oxford tries to deal with financially pinched customers case by case. "If somebody comes to me and says, 'This is my situation,' sure, we'll try to accommodate them," Mr. Price said.

Greg Doyle, electronic resources program manager of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, in Portland, Ore., not afraid to use the word "dire" to describe the economic situation that faces his alliance's members. "Right now everybody's budget is terrible," he said. Many don't yet know just how bad the cuts will be. To prepare for the worst, though, they "are actively identifying databases to cut." ...

PS:  Also see the the ARL Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis, released last month, and the ICOLC Statement on the Global Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Consortial Licenses, released in January.