Does bundling "screw libraries"?

Apr 11 2013 Published by under publishing, scholarly communication

I'm not an Elsevier apologist, really, but let's just be pragmatic here. There are lots of things to criticize them for, but I can't get as exercised about the bundling as some.

Here are my thoughts in brief:

  • What we pay for each download/view is actually pretty low
  • Our researchers have immediate access to lots of obscure things we never thought they'd need
  • Our researchers are accessing things we'd never subscribe to if offered separately
  • Even crap journals may have some good content from time to time (El Naschie not withstanding)
  • We don't have to take the bundle. We can always just subscribe to just those journals we want. Many libraries have cancelled their big deals.

Bad things:

  • Supporting some crap journals
  • Some jerk editors of crap journals advertising that we subscribe to their crap journal
  • Inflation in the cost of the big deals eating up the serials budget leaving less and less for smaller publishers or individual subscriptions.

This last thing is really bad, but it's not only the case in bundle situations. The big fancy science and technology journals are crazy expensive whether you purchase them in a bundle or individually. Our budgets are decreasing - we're cutting 5% here or 10% there when we're not facing 25% cuts - and as I said in an earlier post, 15% increases are not doable, even if new journals are added to the package.

So anyway, call me brainwashed or whatever, but I'm just trying to get the content our folks need for the money we have to spend (or, in most cases, the money our parent institution has to spend 'cause mpow is cut to the bone).

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