ATG Article of the Week: Are ‘Big Deals’ Actually Good Deals?

by | May 31, 2019 | 0 comments


Are ‘Big Deals’ Actually Good Deals? is an article in Inside Higher Ed which features Kent Anderson’s (CEO of publishing and data analytics company RedLink) contention that “the subscription model is actually “pretty efficient” for institutions.” It also offers the perspectives of other library experts like Camille Veillette Péclet, collections director at Université de Montréal Libraries, Lisa Hinchliffe, professor and coordinator of information literacy services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Roger Schonfeld, director of the libraries, scholarly communication and museums program at Ithaka S+R:


“A growing number of U.S. institutions are not renewing their bundled journal subscriptions with big publishers, citing rising costs that have made these deals unsustainable.

Louisiana State University recently said that it could no longer afford its $2 million annual comprehensive journal subscription deal with publisher Elsevier. By unbundling its “big deal” and subscribing to only the most essential journals, the institution’s administrators hope to save the library $1 million a year. LSU is far from the first institution to complain that publishers’ subscription costs are too high. The University of California system, Temple University, West Virginia University, the University of Oklahoma and Florida State University all announced this year that they are dropping big deal contracts with various publishers, including Elsevier, Wiley and Springer Nature.

But one skeptic is challenging the conventional wisdom about high subscription rates and raising doubts about big deals not being good deals.

Kent Anderson, CEO of publishing and data analytics company RedLink, has argued that the subscription model is actually “pretty efficient” for institutions.

“It’s actually pretty amazing that thousands of students at colleges and universities — as well as instructors and researchers — can in most cases get access to much of the world’s developing knowledge for less than a penny on every dollar spent by institutions of higher learning,” he wrote on The Scholarly Kitchen, a blog of the Society for Scholarly Publishing.

Anderson knows about the costs because earlier this year he conducted an analysis that determined that academic libraries generally devote about one-third of their budgets to subscription purchases, with an average cost per title of $23.48 for public universities and colleges and $18.74 for private institutions.

Looking at subscription costs as a percentage of total institutional budget, Anderson found that universities spend approximately 0.5 percent of their total budget on subscriptions.

At the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, for example, it would cost each in-state undergraduate student $26 a year to gain access to all the journals to which the university subscribes. Anderson’s analysis determined that 99.81 percent of students’ tuition payments go elsewhere…”


Click here to continuing reading Mr. Anderson’s analysis and the responses it drew .



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