EBSCO & H.W. Wilson & Economist

Last week, EBSCO Publishing and the H.W. Wilson Company announced a merger of the two, ostensibly with Wilson being consumed by the behemoth that is EBSCO. Frankly, I’m not surprised. Several years ago when Wilson pulled their indexes out of the aggregators to create and market their own databases on their own platform, I knew it would either save the company or be their downfall.

I don’t know the details of what went into the acquisition, but I do know that WilsonWeb was a half-baked product when it went to market, and in my not-so-humble opinion, it hasn’t significantly improved over the years. The best thing for libraries and researchers would be to move the high quality Wilson indexes onto a modern aggregator database search platform that I won’t be embarrassed to put out there for our users.

In other EBSCO news, they sent out a press release this week regarding The Economist and their bid for a semi-exclusive contract. EBSCO declined the offer, so as of June 30th next year, the full-text coverage of The Economist will be removed and only abstract/index content will remain in EBSCO’s products. I suspect that more big name publications may try to do the same, and this concerns me slightly.

My main issue with full-text of The Economist not being in our EBSCO databases in the future is not so much that I want it there as it is I want it available electronically. Currently, The Economist does not offer an institutional subscription or any sort of IP-based access for their online platform. We do not subscribe to or have plans to subscribe to the resources that will supposedly continue to have full-text content from The Economist, so I hope that they get their act together and start providing institutional subscriptions.

Kind of ironic that just a few weeks ago The Economist published an article that tut-tutted academic publishers for being too mercenary in their pricing structures. Maybe they’re just jealous they didn’t think of it first?

NASIG 2011: Polishing the Crystal Ball — Using Historical Data to Project Serials Trends and Pricing

Speakers: Steve Bosch & Heather Klusendorf

The Library Journal periodicals price survey was developed in partnership with EBSCO when the ALA pulled the old column to publish in American Libraries. There is a similar price survey being done by the AALL for law publications.

There is a difference between a price survey and a price index. A price survey is a broad look, and a price index attempts to control the categories/titles included.

[The next bit was all about the methodology behind making the LJ survey. Not why I am interested, so not really taking notes on it.]

Because of the challenge of getting pricing for ejournals, the survey is based mainly on print prices. That being said, the trends in pricing for print is similar to that of electronic.

Knowing the trends for pricing in your specific set of journals can help you predict what you need to budget for. While there are averages across the industry, they may not be accurate depending on the mix in your collection. [I am thinking that this means that the surveys and indexes are useful for broad picture looks at the industry, but maybe not for local budget planning?]

It is important to understand what goes into a pricing tool and how it resembles or departs from local conditions in order to pick the right one to use.

Budgets for libraries and higher education are not in “recovery.” While inflation calmed down last year, they are on the rise this year, with an estimate of 7-8%. The impact may be larger than at the peak of the serials pricing crisis in the 1990s. Libraries will have less buying power, and users will have less resources, and publishers will have fewer customers.

Why is the inflation rate for serials so much higher than the consumer price index inflation rate? There has been an expansion of higher education, which adds to the amount of stuff being published. The rates of return for publishers are pretty much normal for their industry. There isn’t any one reason why.