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STM journals: the end of Big Deal is approaching!

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A very interesting annual report by Allen Press shows how some new trends on the american publishing industry could definitely change the business models of Big STM publishers…

Some findings:

Budget cuts have become inevitable, forcing publishers to restrategize and libraries to make even tougher purchasing decisions. (…)

2012 journal prices increased but not at the levels seen in prior years… (…)

Pressure on Publishers:

  • Publishers are also faced with the ongoing erosion of their subscription bases. Some institutions  simply cannot make ends meet when it comes to their shrinking or flat budgets
  • Publishers are also struggling to get the advertising dollars they once did to help financially support their publications. (…) Online advertising has not proved to bring in revenue equitable to that of its print counterpart
  • Increasing competition, especially from new Open Access and mega journals, has added to the struggle of publishers as well

Despite implementing cost-cutting actions, many libraries continue to struggle to keep up  with increasing serials pricing. Libraries do not have the resources to continue to exist in a world of ever-increasing prices, nor can publishers survive without positive cash flow. (…)

The results indicated that in order to achieve budget goals, 78% of librarian respondents will likely cut print
journals for the next fiscal year and 86% of librarian respondents are likely to move print plus online subscriptions to online only. In 2010, approximately 27% of publishers surveyed reported a decline in their print business greater than 10%. (…)

Mobile access:

Publishers need to be responding to the surge of such technology by making their content readily available on mobile devices. (…) Mobile technology allows library customers to connect to their local library’s virtual catalog for  audiobooks and eBooks. Scientific journal content  is also becoming more available with mobile options such as SciVerse Mobile from Elsevier and EBSCOhost Mobile from EBSCO Publishing. Opportunities to have information anytime and anywhere are constantly growing. (…)

We are now in the middle of a new transition where users demand the ability to consume content anywhere and at all times. Online access is a necessity rather than a novelty or add-on. Content is still key, but it is moving mobile. Libraries, publishers, and users can all benefit, but only if pricing becomes sustainable. (…)

New models suggestion:

We live in a time where library patrons want immediate access to even more journal content, and libraries are searching for ways to meet these demands with even tighter budgets. Thus, pay-per-view (PPV) or transactional access may be the way of the future for some as an alternative to Big Deals. (…) It’s not seen as a replacement, but rather as a supplement to other existing models. Traditional subscriptions still make sense and are the most cost-effective choice for high-usage title (…)

Another emerging option is the read-only short-term loan or article rental. It has a low cost and offers 24-hour access; however, it is not available for download or print, and each use equals another payment… (…)

The End of Big Deal:

In fact, business models have changed tremendously since the arrival of consortial purchasing and the Big Deal. Now, however, libraries are looking for different ways to meet user demands for information in the digital realm. As current methods of selling content become outdated, it may be necessary for publishers to reevaluate their business models(…) …, analysts are suggesting that the end of the Big Deal is approaching.

Open Access:

Librarians and researchers are pushing for a move toward Open Access (OA) because of ever-increasing prices, and it is has become a practical channel for distributing scholarly information. But publishers believe their current business models are a must to maintain the quality of their products, and they have concerns about how to develop a sustainable business model to support OA. (…)

Solution: improve the content

With Big Deals and smaller publishers struggling  to compete, the focus should be on content. (…) Researchers read articles, not journals. Every article needs to be significant and contribute to driving usage of your journal.

Read the full report at:

Tillery, Kodi. 2012 study of subscription prices for scholarly society journals: society journals pricing trends and industry overview. White paper, Allen Press, 2012. 19 p. Available for free from: http://allenpress.com/system/files/pdfs/library/2012_AP_JPS.pdf

Written by hbasset

August 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Intelligence and Info Pros discuss “STM journals: the end of Big Deal is approaching!“: Budget cuts have become inevitable, forcing publishers to restrategize and libraries to […]


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