Each year, EBSCO strives to help customers plan by projecting publisher price increases for the upcoming year. We use recent information received from both large and small publishers as well as historical price data to calculate these projections. While based upon careful analysis, we recommend that subscribers exercise caution when using these projections as they rely on historical trends and current estimates.
Serials Pricing Trends
In last year’s price projection report, we focused on the increasing difficulty of forecasting price increases due to the combined factors of the global recession, customized pricing by publishers for large e-package deals, and a general lack of transparency arising from new pricing models for e-content. As we look forward to 2011, these three factors continue to play a major role in the pricing outlook for our library customers. Indeed, in the “e” world, similar-sized institutions with similar programs may face varying price increase outcomes depending on each institution’s list of licensed e-journal collections and unique pricing terms. However, despite the varied nature of publisher pricing in the electronic era, almost all institutions EBSCO serves are facing similar budget pressures, and many libraries are facing budget reductions. In light of this, we believe that the primary factor impacting publisher pricing over the next several years will be how the “Big Deal” fares when challenged by prolonged budget weakness and the rise of usage-based tools to assist in determining the value of serial subscriptions at the title or collection level.
The global economic outlook continues to be cloudy, and economic weakness in general is negatively affecting both libraries and publishers. In the United States, corporate profits have improved over the last twelve months as cost restructuring actions have boosted bottom line results. However, corporations appear unwilling to invest due to the uncertainties in the tax, political, and economic landscapes. As a result, revenue and spending growth remain very weak. Some economists in the United States have even begun to forecast a “double dip” recession in the near future driven by low consumer spending and a relatively high unemployment rate. With a few notable exceptions, such as Germany’s relative economic strength driven by a robust export sector, the picture is not much better in the United Kingdom and continental Europe. High levels of national debt and the hangover from the housing market bubble weigh heavily on economies throughout the region. Moreover, the Greek debt crisis highlighted potentially serious fault lines in the Euro-zone countries. While the situation appears to be stable at the moment, another economic shock similar to the Greek situation would place significant pressure on the EU from a common currency standpoint.
Both in the United States and elsewhere around the world, the bottom line of the economic situation for libraries is that their budgets are suffering. Not only is endowment funding down significantly, but many libraries are also receiving a smaller portion in general of university budgets (ARL Statistics 2007-2008). The end result is that librarians must continue to support their institutions with a smaller slice of a smaller pie. In a recent EBSCO survey, a majority of our responding customers indicated that they were eliminating certain content purchases such as the print components of print + electronic combinations, low use electronic titles within e-packages (via unbundling when titles within a package are shown to receive minimal use), and databases with the least unique content and coverage.