Happy New Year and Happy Hot Topic-ing! I hope everyone enjoyed a lovely and relaxing holiday break, and that the start of a new semester is not cutting too painfully into peaceful holiday memories. I am not in the habit of making resolutions (rules are made to be broken, yes?), but this year I hope to make a dent in my massive pleasure reading queue while also staying abreast of library industry issues. We can all dream, right?
Hot off the press this week is the announcement of the merger between Springer Science+Business Media and Macmillan Science and Education (the latter best known for publishing Nature and Scientific American). Press releases abound, and interested readers can learn more about the merger from Macmillan, Springer, and Nature on their own sites (disclaimer: the press releases from Macmillan and Springer are more or less the same).
Springer, already a leader in scientific publishing and one of the “Big 4” scientific publishing giants, is now poised to gain an even wider readership, as Nature alone offers several popular and prolific publications. And Macmillan can rest easy knowing they are under the udder of such an established cash cow. The benefits for both entities are obvious: less competition between them, increased revenue streams, a larger economic scale that will allow for sustained growth, the potential for future acquisitions and technological advancements, and an even more powerful and knowledgeable collective brain.
But what does this mean for those of us in the end-markets? Most academic libraries are already in bed with Springer and/or Macmillan in some incarnation, but this merger will mean one less entity on the market, and one less chance for competitive price bargaining. Even if libraries somehow escaped purchasing from one or the other in the past, this will no longer be an option. On the flipside, a merger of this magnitude could mean a more streamlined acquisitions process for librarians and (one would hope) better access options for students and researchers who already struggle to comprehend the ins and outs of each publisher’s platform. In fact, in the press release issued from both sides, Ewald Walgenbach, Managing Partner of BC Partners, mentions that they are creating a new platform to serve the scientific research market. Libraries like to see efficiencies in access and functionality, but at what cost? Quite literally, what the heck is all this going to cost this time next year? Your guess is as good as mine.