Periodicals Price Survey 2010: Seeking the New Normal

Budget strains force radical change

The year 2009 will be remembered as one of angst, with the economy dominating news around the world. Few libraries were immune to the extraordinary financial pressures. The library marketplace by year's end was in a weakened position, with prospects of a long recovery at best. Concern persists that even deeper budget cuts will come when federal stimulus money expires in the 2012 budget cycle. Even when the economy improves, increased funds for libraries are not likely to be at the top of the list for new spending priorities. Riding out the storm may not be an option in the face of a drastically changed landscape. A survey conducted in fall 2009 by CIBER research group at University College London, in conjunction with the Charleston Conference, YBP Library Services, and ebrary (bit.ly/auH2JH), found that nearly one-third of libraries have seen their budgets reduced by five percent or more. Two-thirds of libraries expect budgets to remain flat over the next two years. The same libraries acknowledge that they could instead face more cuts. For institutions reporting budget reductions, materials budgets were the most likely to be slashed, with print journal subscriptions being one of the chief target areas. In November 2009, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) identified one of the root sources of cuts to libraries when it released a report detailing the “Coping strategies of public universities during the economic recession of 2009.” Based on a survey of its 188 member institutions, the APLU report documents the scope and magnitude of state reductions in public education support, showing that 64 percent of statescut funding for higher education in 2009–10 (bit.ly/9FX4fr). Libraries may not see a “return to normal” once the economy improves. Evidence suggests instead a search for a “new normal,” one that requires varied approaches to services and collections. For example, the shift from print to digital is likely to accelerate greatly. The delivery of information might become more important than ownership. Open access business models might become more attractive to avoid the costly venues of commercial publishers. To fund new delivery service models and to manage harsh budget cuts, additional reductions may have to be made in subscriptions, and this will include packages. Libraries like the University of Arizona, University of North Carolina, and University of Washington have already eliminated hundreds of journal subscriptions, with the expectation that user demand would have to be met via interlibrary loan. Much of the data reported in the Periodicals Price Survey 2010 outlines the issues that are shaping the journals marketplace. Data is primarily drawn from serial renewals of titles in three ISI databases—Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Science Citation Index. In addition, data is included on titles in EBSCO's Academic Search Premier. Data is limited to prepriced print titles (as opposed to standing-order or bill-later titles) that can be ordered through a vendor and are current as of January 27, 2010. Cost data for electronic versions of journals is still not uniform enough to include in the pricing survey.

The search for sustainability

As libraries wrestled with unprecedented budget reductions at the start of 2009, the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) issued a Statement on the Global Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Consortial Licenses. An Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis followed closely. Both documents pleaded for price stability and warned of significant collections budget downsizing for 2010 and beyond. The documents also included a call for library-publisher collaboration in the development of new pricing models. The statements may have had an impact on publishers: average overall price increases for periodical subscriptions dropped from 7.6 percent in 2009 to 4.4 percent in 2010.

Publisher pricing in 2010

Individual publishers responded to calls for moderation in price increases in a variety of ways. A number of them, such as Annual Reviews, publisher of reviews in 40 focused disciplines within the biomedical, life, physical, and social sciences, and Thieme Publishing Group, an international scientific and medical publisher, heeded the call and froze 2010 prices at 2009 levels. The Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) actually dropped its digital journal package price by ten percent for 2010 renewals. Other publishers tried a combination of pricing adjustments. For example, the American Society of Neuroradiology froze the 2010 price for the electronic format at 2009 levels while raising the print price by four percent. Brill Publishing, with over 100 journal titles in the humanities, social sciences, and hard sciences, lowered the 2010 U.S. online-only price by seven percent from 2009. A number of publishers upped prices for 2010. Springer announced a five percent increase. Elsevier price increases are also in the five percent range, with the notable exception of The Lancet. The 2010 price for The Lancet jumped nine percent over 2009 levels; that increase was still smaller than in previous years. In October, the library world reeled as Nature Publishing Group (NPG) announced a 640 percent price increase (from $39.95 in 2009 to $299 in 2010) for a print subscription to Scientific American. The cost for the digital site license also rose substantially, and a number of consortia, like the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the Oberlin Group, refused to renew. The announcement came only weeks after NPG bought the magazine.

State of the journals market

Price increases notwithstanding, indications are that all academic publishers were affected by the economic downturn. In February 2010, ESBCO conducted a private survey of its 100 largest business partners, including STM and society publishers, university presses, and for-profit consumer houses. Sixty percent of those responding said that the economic downturn had a negative impact on their business in 2009. Twenty-five percent reported a one percent to five percent decline in orders; 30 percent, a five percent to ten percent decline; and 17 percent, a more than ten percent drop. As expected, print orders in particular declined for 2010, with 58 percent of publishers reporting a reduction in print orders in the five percent to ten percent range. Most publishers also noted that efforts to recapture lost print orders had failed. When asked about pricing plans for 2011, 80 percent of publishers indicated they were considering price increases, possibly coupled with pricing model changes. The last quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 saw a number of major publisher acquisitions and mergers. In December 2009, Cinven and Candover announced the sale of Springer to EQT, a Swedish private equity firm. While the Springer sale may not have an immediate consequence on the library market, the new owners will ultimately expect a reasonable return on their investment, which could mean increased pricing pressures. Although the Wiley-Blackwell merger took place in 2007, repercussions were still being felt in 2009 as consortia negotiated new contracts for the combined content. Despite a poor economy and pruned library budgets, the new contracts provided little relief for libraries.

Content games

The tightening economy has accelerated the already rapid move from print journals to online-only to widen access while containing cost, a move made easier because nonduplication of resources has become an accepted collection development principle. Principle collided with practice in January, however, when aggregated full-text database titans Gale Cengage and EBSCO clashed after the announcement that EBSCO had secured single-source distribution rights for Time and Forbes. Although the exclusive contract with EBSCO will abridge duplication of content among databases, most librarians feared that exclusive agreements would diminish flexibility and lead to higher prices. The content chess game continued in February when Gale Cengage purchased Questia Media, Inc., and acquired monograph and journal content from more than 300 humanities and social sciences publishers. This struggle for exclusive contracts prompted ICOLC to add a new section to its statement on the global economic crisis outlining the negative repercussions that exclusive licenses could have on the library marketplace.

Consortia consolidation

Library consortia have been driven to look for new economies of scale in the face of broad-based budget retrenchment. For example, OCLC restructured its service and financial relationship with the former OCLC regional service providers (RSP) in 2009, forcing them to reinvent themselves to remain solvent. Last year, LYRASIS was formed from the merger of several RSPs—SOLINET, PALINET, and NELINET. LYRASIS is now the largest regional membership organization serving libraries. Another merger involved the Michigan Library Consortium (MLC) and Indiana's INCOLSA, Inc. The resulting Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS) represents over 1300 institutions. Overall, the upshot of the development of these “super” consortia remains to be seen. They may be able to leverage resources and get better pricing for members, but, then, they may not. The consolidation of some large agreements with vendors might result in one contract and invoice where there were previously two or three. Compressions of this size do not necessarily translate to large savings in overhead for the supplier.

Better tools

As the economy tightened, libraries began using a variety of tools to produce quantitative data to inform budget reduction decisions. These tools include commercial products like Ulrich's Serials Analysis System and Swets Scholarly Stats, as well as locally developed collection management tools. Washington State University, for example, has created a serials decision database that tracks elements such as price, impact factor, and cost per use (bit.ly/cBsB1U). It uses the Eigenfactor web site (www.eigenfactor.org) to determine the influence and subsequently the value for the money of a journal. The result of these new assessment tools is arguably a more tightly controlled decision-making process. The tools make it extremely easy to identify duplicate sources of information, the level of usage, and the cost for that use.

The end of the Big Deal?

Always a topic of discussion in library circles, Big Deal packages received intense scrutiny in 2009. Anecdotal information at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in January 2010 indicates that some libraries are opting out of Big Deals owing to budget constraints. Publishers, however, continue to tout the value of bundled content. The STM report commissioned by the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers, published in September 2009, observes, “The 'Big Deal' and similar discounted packages have been extremely successful in widening researchers' access to journals while simultaneously reducing the average cost per subscription and the average cost per article download.” Libraries are aware, however, that the top journals in a bundle continue to generate the majority of use while the low-use journals still account for a large portion of the cost. So while some libraries renegotiated their package deals for 2010, others moved away from bundled e-journals, in some cases substituting individual orders to the most-used content on an individual title basis. Others canceled packages and migrated to a transactional, or pay per view, model. The STM report acknowledges that the bundle model is under pressure from librarians unhappy with its inflexibility and outdated structure but concludes that its benefits appear sufficient for it to remain the dominant business model for some time (bit.ly/3Qjvaf). That said, the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way. If library budgets continue to erode, this will translate to more sacrifices, including canceling more Big Deals.

Commoditization of resources

Libraries have traditionally had a role in preserving the scholarly and cultural record. Facing funding cutbacks, library parent organizations expect accountability and value for the resources they invest, generally demonstrated by the level of use of the content. When use becomes a key part of the value proposition, it can lead to commoditization of library resources. Content that is used is “good” irrespective of the quality. Much of the content in the scholarly and cultural record may not appeal to popular tastes or merely reflects the current hot topics in scholarly discourse. Libraries will have to make hard decisions both to meet current user demands and to preserve quality information that doesn't see significant use in the short term.

Impact of open access

Despite some tremendous efforts by proponents, open access (OA) initiatives have had only a modest effect on the publishing industry as a whole. Open access journals are not yet considered mainstream publishing venues. And while the number of peer-reviewed, full open access journals represents ten percent of all peer-reviewed journals, estimates are that only two percent to 4.6 percent of total articles published are OA. Experimentation continues, nonetheless. Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, and UC-Berkeley announced their joint support for A Compact on Open-Access Publishing that promotes the economic advantages of a robust author-pays option for scholarly publishing and urges the academic community to step up universitywide efforts to make the author-pays model more viable. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy was made permanent in 2009, requiring articles resulting from NIH-funded research be deposited in PubMed and openly accessible within 12 months of publication. Then in June 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology convened a Scholarly Publishing Roundtable to review the current state of scholarly publishing and develop recommendations for expanding public access to the journal articles arising from research funded by agencies of the U.S. government. This group recommends that federal research funding agencies should develop and implement an explicit public access policy that brings about open access to the results of the research that it funds. It appears that the NIH policy will be extended to other federal agencies. The round table did recognize the value of peer review in scholarly communication and did not recommend immediate open access to published materials, but it clearly indicated that there is a public good in broad access to this content (bit.ly/5GXLW9). There are many efforts under way to continue developments in OA. An open access initiative in particle physics, known as SCOAP3, is under consideration worldwide but has not yet been adopted. Many universities have mandates that require faculty to post journal articles in their home institutions' open access repositories. With the economic downturn, it is even more evident that the current commercial publishing models will be difficult to sustain. OA publishing may have a role in containing costs as new journals could be launched on OA platforms as opposed to being added to costly commercial ones. It remains to be seen if that will come to fruition. Some commercial publishers seem tobe under the impression that they will simply have to ride out the current bad times, but the changes libraries need to make to get through the next few years might be more drastic than imagined. Libraries might have to alter radically how and what content they deliver rather than merely waiting for the good times to reemerge. In such a climate, open access will become an increasingly important part of academic publishing.

Keeping journals safe

During 2009, a good deal of work was done in libraries to address print journal storage. The concern driving much of that work was the growing realization that significant resources are consumed maintaining print collections that now see little use because the content is available digitally. Over the past several years, the development of digital archives for journal content has provided a safety net that now allows a reevaluation of the need to keep huge back files of print journals on library shelves. LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, and Portico are major examples of these digital archives. In January 2010, Portico was certified as a “trustworthy digital repository” by the Center for Research Libraries, signifying that it provides the required systems with redundancies to ensure digital content is securely archived. With this level of security, libraries can discard duplicate print journals with minimal risk. Many groups are now working through the problems associated with developing cooperative approaches to managing print collections. Typically, copies of the print would be kept by a few libraries in a group. By agreement, those copies would serve as the archive of this print content for all other libraries in the group. For example, the Research Library Group (RLG) Shared Print Coordinating Committee outlined policy and infrastructure requirements needed to manage print archives in a shared environment. With a secure archive of both the print and digital copies in place, RLG libraries are free to remove redundant titles from their shelves, lowering costs and paring the space needed to maintain collections.

Looking ahead to 2011

Available data suggests that the search for the new normal will be challenging for all involved as the library marketplace attempts to rebalance for 2011. In a proprietary survey of upper-level library administration conducted by EBSCO in February 2010, 15.5 percent of respondents said that they were optimistic that they would receive a budget increase for 2011; 36.4 percent of respondents anticipated a flat budget; 20 percent expected a drop of five percent to ten percent; and 13.5 percent forecast reductions of more than ten percent. Library budgets reflect an increasingly complex mosaic of collections. As such, estimates of price increases have to be tailored to fit every scenario. It is too soon yet to tell if this year's lower average rate of price increase will hold for next year. In planning for 2011 and beyond, managers are encouraged to use the traditional six percent to eight percent inflation rate as a guide, adjusting the numbers based on the components of their distinct holdings.
Discipline Average Price Per Title
Chemistry $3,792
Physics 3,368
Biology 2,035
Engineering 1,925
Astronomy 1,921
Botany 1,695
Geology 1,607
Math & Computer Science 1,541
Zoology 1,532
Food Science 1,530
Health Sciences 1,398
General Science 1,287
Technology 1,237
Agriculture 1,110
Geography 1,094
SOURCE: LJ PERIODICALS PRICE SURVEY 2010
 
Country No. of ISI Titles Avg. Price Per Title
Russia 50 $4,039
Ireland 38 3,019
Netherlands 545 2,583
Hungary 13 2,399
Austria 25 2,347
Singapore 19 1,969
Germany 432 1,739
Switzerland 91 1,621
England 1,927 1,561
United States 2,621 992
Australia 50 537
France 113 476
Japan 69 465
Spain 16 420
Canada 103 320
Italy 58 317
New Zealand 15 311
Scotland 16 284
South Africa 15 263
Czech Republic 19 257
Chile 13 94
AVERAGE COST OF AN ISI TITLE: $1,239
SOURCE: LJ PERIODICALS PRICE SURVEY 2010
 
Subject Average No. of Titles 2008–2010 % of Change '08–'10 Average Cost Per Title 2008 Average Cost Per Title 2009 % of Change 2009 Average Cost Per Title 2010 % of Change 2010
Agriculture 190 14 $1,038 $1,114 7 $1,178 6
Anthropology 49 13 400 435 9 450 4
Arts & Architecture 94 13 254 273 7 286 5
Astronomy 28 50 1,680 1,803 7 1,921 7
Biology 269 14 1,806 1,944 8 2,035 5
Botany 66 15 1,502 1,622 8 1,695 5
Business & Economics 401 14 883 942 7 986 5
Chemistry 246 13 3,420 3,647 7 3,792 4
Education 123 15 567 619 9 653 6
Engineering 472 16 1,961 2,129 9 2,242 5
Food Science 19 15 1,327 1,442 9 1,530 6
General Science 76 13 1,122 1,222 9 1,287 5
General Social Sciences 49 16 625 688 10 723 5
General Works 78 12 176 185 5 194 5
Geography 90 17 1,093 1,148 5 1,232 7
Geology 98 14 1,529 1,607 5 1,685 5
Health Sciences 1,657 15 1,304 1,413 8 1,486 5
History 286 21 256 277 8 295 7
Language & Literature 413 24 233 249 7 275 10
Law 87 16 294 325 10 338 4
Library Science 50 12 513 557 8 587 5
Math & Computer Science 226 10 1,397 1,480 6 1,541 4
Military & Naval Science 11 23 639 682 7 713 5
Music 61 13 180 189 5 197 4
Philosophy & Religion 186 24 261 276 6 300 9
Physics 248 11 3,094 3,248 5 3,368 4
Political Science 77 16 527 572 8 612 7
Psychology 172 19 590 649 10 691 7
Recreation 24 42 324 418 29 442 6
Sociology 305 17 597 647 8 692 7
Technology 171 14 3,180 1,458 -54 1,531 5
Zoology 128 16 1,362 1,479 9 1,532 4
SOURCE: LJ PERIODICALS PRICE SURVEY 2010
 
No. of Titles % of List 2010 Cost % of Cost Projected % of Increase Projected 2011 Cost % of Cost Projected Overall % Increase
ARTS AND HUMANITIES CITATION INDEX
U.S. 431 35.9 $69,101 21.9 7.1 $73,938 21.6 7.9
NON-U.S. 768 64.1 246,814 78.1 8.7 269,027 78.4
SOCIAL SCIENCES CITATION INDEX
U.S. 937 46.8 498,509 33.7 8.1 538,888 33.9 7.8
NON-U.S. 1064 53.1 978,923 66.3 7.5 1,052,343 55.1
SCIENCE CITATION INDEX
U.S. 1368 38.9 105,378 2.1 7.7 113,808 2.1 7.3
NON-US 2146 61.1 4,963,554 97.9 6.8 5,311,003 97.9
PROJECTED OVERALL INCREASE FOR ALL ISI TITLES: 7.7%
SOURCE: LJ PERIODICALS PRICE SURVEY 2010
 
Author Information
Kittie S. Henderson is Director, Academic and Law Divisions, EBSCO Information Services, Birmingham, AL. Stephen Bosch is Materials Budget, Procurement, and Licensing Librarian, University of Arizona Library, Tucson
 
 
 Periodical Prices for High School and Small Public LibrariesOverall price increases for titles in EBSCO Publishing's Magazine Article Summaries Ultra are expected to be in the 5% to 7% range.
Magazine Article Summaries Ultra No. of Titles 2008–2010 % of Change 2010 Average Cost Per Title 2008 Average Cost Per Title 2009 % of Change '08–'09 Average Cost Per Title 2010 % of Change '09–'10
U.S. 256 26 $86 $102 19 $109 6
TOTAL NON-U.S. 38 7 247 246 0 263 7
SOURCE: LJ PERIODICALS PRICE SURVEY 2010
 
Periodical Prices for University and College LibrariesOverall price increases for titles in EBSCO's Academic Search Premier are expected to be in the 6% to 8% range for 2011.
Academic Search Premier No. of Titles % of List 2010 Average Cost per Title % of Cost Projected % of Increase Projected 2011 Average Cost per Title % of Cost Projected Overall % Increase
U.S. 1,343 40.2 $577 23.9 8.4 $625 24.0 8.1
NON-U.S. 2,001 59.8 1,235 76.1 7.9 1,333 76.0 8.1
SOURCE: LJ PERIODICALS PRICE SURVEY 2010
 
Subject Avg. No. of Titles 2006– 2010 Avg. Cost Per Title 2006 Avg. Cost Per Title 2007 % of Change '06–'10 Avg. Cost Per Title 2008 % of Change '07–'08 Avg. Cost Per Title 2009 % of Change '08–'09 Avg. Cost Per Title 2010 % of Change '09–'10 % of Change '06–'10
Agriculture 74 $763 $836 9 $900 8 $982 9 $1,041 6 36
Anthropology 26 359 389 8 424 9 472 11 500 6 39
Arts & Architecture 41 201 222 10 244 10 270 11 282 4 40
Astronomy 18 1,711 1,866 9 1,885 1 2,034 8 2,156 6 26
Biology 100 1,312 1,477 13 1,610 9 1,766 10 1,838 4 40
Botany 25 1,230 1,339 9 1,443 8 1,512 5 1,617 7 31
Business & Economics 104 328 356 9 396 11 438 11 462 6 41
Chemistry 70 2,566 2,804 9 3,055 9 3,272 7 3,449 5 34
Education 230 365 403 10 446 11 482 8 510 6 40
Engineering 235 1,116 1,215 9 1,320 9 1,476 12 1,578 7 41
Food Science 16 422 458 9 469 2 509 8 570 12 35
General Science 44 685 742 8 811 9 880 8 930 6 36
General Social Sciences 29 242 260 8 286 10 313 9 337 8 39
General Works 74 100 108 8 114 6 118 3 122 3 21
Geography 46 500 558 12 652 17 707 9 770 9 54
Geology 27 735 803 9 879 9 939 7 988 5 34
Health Sciences 739 827 915 11 1,007 10 1,107 10 1,154 4 40
History 222 219 239 9 267 12 291 9 311 7 42
Language & Literature 123 178 192 8 212 11 233 10 259 11 45
Law 75 313 340 8 368 8 398 8 428 8 36
Library & Information Science 56 157 165 5 186 13 193 4 204 6 30
Math & Computer Science 144 1,121 1,205 8 1,317 9 1,418 8 1,483 5 32
Military & Naval Science 22 239 267 12 289 8 322 11 363 13 52
Music 22 168 179 7 198 11 214 8 222 4 32
Philosophy 230 339 371 10 407 10 453 11 464 3 37
Physics 103 2,509 2,867 14 2,988 4 3,235 8 3,408 5 36
Political Science 72 389 430 11 463 8 499 8 522 5 34
Recreation 13 201 214 7 242 13 258 7 268 4 33
Sociology 198 386 426 10 477 12 516 8 551 7 43
Technology 22 356 384 8 430 12 484 13 507 5 42
Zoology 41 865 910 5 994 9 1,103 11 1,136 3 31
SOURCE: LJ PERIODICALS PRICE SURVEY 2010
 
 

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