October 25, 2014

Research Paper: “Open Access, Library and Publisher Competition, and the Evolution of General Commerce”

share save 171 16 Research Paper: Open Access, Library and Publisher Competition, and the Evolution of General Commerce

The following paper (preliminary version) is available via arXiv. A direct link to the full text is available below.

Title

Open Access, Library and Publisher Competition, and the Evolution of General Commerce

Author

Andrew Odlyzko
School of Mathematics
University of Minnesota

Source

via arXiv

Abstract

Discussions of the economics of scholarly communication are usually devoted to Open Access, rising journal prices, publisher profits, and boycotts. That ignores what seems a much more important development in this market. Publishers, through the oft-reviled “Big Deal” packages, are providing much greater and more egalitarian access to the journal literature, an approximation to true Open Access. In the process they are also marginalizing libraries, and obtaining a greater share of the resources going into scholarly communication. This is enabling a continuation of publisher profits as well as of what for decades has been called “unsustainable journal price escalation”. It is also inhibiting the spread of Open Access, and potentially leading to an oligopoly of publishers controlling distribution through large-scale licensing.

The “Big Deal” practices are worth studying for several general reasons. The degree to which publishers succeed in diminishing the role of libraries may be an indicator of the degree and speed at which universities transform themselves. More importantly, these “Big Deals” appear to point the way to the future of the whole economy, where progress is characterized by declining privacy, increasing price discrimination, increasing opaqueness in pricing, increasing reliance on low-paid or upaid work of others for profits, and business models that depend on customer inertia.

Direct to Full Text (36 pages; PDF)

Updates and newer versions will be made available here.

share save 171 16 Research Paper: Open Access, Library and Publisher Competition, and the Evolution of General Commerce
Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.