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.

ER&L 2010: Developing a methodology for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of journal packages

Speaker: Nisa Bakkalbasi

Journal packages offer capped price increases, access to non-subscribed content, and it’s easier to manage than title-by-title subscriptions. But, the economic downturn has resulted in even the price caps not being enough to sustain the packages.

Her library only seriously considers COUNTER reports, which is handy, since most package publishers provide them. They add to that the publisher’s title-by-title list price, as well as some subject categories and fund codes. Their analysis includes quantitative and qualitative variables using pivot tables.

In addition, they look at the pricing/sales model for the package: base value, subscribed/non-subscribed titles, cancellation allowance, price cap/increase, deep discount for print rate, perpetual/post-cancellation access rights, duration of the contract, transfer titles, and third-party titles.

So, the essential question is, are we paying more for the package than for specific titles (perhaps fewer than we currently have) if we dissolved the journal package?

She takes the usage reports for at least the past three years in order to look at trends, and excludes titles that are based on separate pricing models, and also excluded backfile usage if that was a separate purchase (COUNTER JR1a subtracted from JR1 – and you will need to know what years the publisher is calling the backfile). Then she adds list prices for all titles (subscribed & non-subscribed). Then, she calculates the cost-per-use of the titles, and uses the ILL cost (per the ILL department) as a threshold for possible renewals or cancellations.

The final decision depends on the base value paid by the library, the collection budget increase/decrease, price cap, and the quality/consistency of ILL service (money is not everything). This method is only about the costs, and it does not address the value of the resources to the users beyond what they may have looked at. There may be other factors that contributed to non-use.

gas boycott on tuesday — what’s the point?

Go ahead and don’t buy gas on Tuesday, but it’s not going to lower the price per gallon.

It appears that the perennial gas boycott has reared its ugly head again, this time setting next Tuesday, May 15th as the day to not fill up your vehicle’s gas tank. This time around it is protesting the recent price per gallon increases to an average above $3, but will it be effective? Probably not.

This has been tried before over the past decade or more, with no visible effect on gas prices. Usually, folks who participate in the protest simply buy their gas on other days. In no way do most reduce the amount of gas they use, so as far as the filling stations are concerned, it’s simply a small blip in daily sales.

What will really send a message is to drastically reduce your gas use. Walk or bike instead of driving, or use public transportation or a carpool if you have those options. Do all of these things every day, and not just on next Tuesday. Of course, these things may not lower the pump prices in the short run, but they certainly will have less of an impact on your wallet.

Gas prices are on the rise, and we would be foolish to think that oil companies are going to lower them for any reason since there hasn’t been a real backlash against them. Americans are still buying big gas guzzling vehicles, and even if we feel the squeeze at the pump, we are willing to pay for it. Oil companies have us over the barrel, and they know it.

more on gas prices

Gas prices in Richmond have caught up with the rest of the country by going over $2/gal.

They did it again. Richmond area gas prices have stayed at a constant $1.89 ever since the jump from $1.84 to $1.99 and then fall back to $1.89 last week. When I was in Lexington on Monday, I noticed their gas prices had gone down to as low as $1.81, which I saw as a sure sign that ours would be inching down again soon. So, I wasn’t surprised when the usual cheaper places began lowering their prices by a cent every other day. This morning on my drive in, I was pleased to see that my favorite station had gone down to $1.87. Not much of a difference, but I figured it was just the beginning of a trend. Sadly, this was not the case. On my way home this evening, I nearly hit the roof when I saw station after station brazenly displaying $2.05 for regular unleaded — only $0.04 less than what the premium had cost at 7:30 this morning. Tell me again why this is good business practice?

gas prices

Anna rants about gas prices.

I’m starting to get really pissed about gas prices these days. Yesterday, most of the gas stations in town were at $1.84/gal for regular unleaded, which was about average for the state. It’s more than I’d like to be paying, but considering how little pump prices have increased over the past few decades, I’m not going to complain to loudly. However, this morning I woke up to $1.99/gal at just about every station in town and my wallet whimpered. It was at that point that I began to seriously consider advocating for federal (or state) regulation of gas pricing.

I understand that businesses need to stay flexible in order to compete in the market. I’m all for giving business owners the freedom to make decisions regarding their product and sales. I’m even willing to pay more for gas, if that’s what the market requires. However, I’d like to see some consistency in pump prices. The oil market jumps around, and that’s to be expected. But it’s a long process to go from crude to the stuff that’s in my car tank, and there should be a number of factors going into that which would level the pricing and make it more consistent across markets.

The kind of regulation that I’d like to see would affect changes in the pump prices. There would be a percentage increase/decrease limit per day that all gas stations would be required to stick by. For instance, a 2% limit would mean that the local stations who increased their prices over night could not increase (or decrease, but that’s not likely) them again by more than $0.04 in the next 24 hours. If it’s a gradual thing, like the markets over, then I’m more willing to accept that it is a necessary business practice. This overnight price increase of 27% is absurd.

Why is it that we accept that gas prices are going to go up and down daily, sometimes throughout the day? Would we be so accepting of the same for the price of eggs, milk, bread, or other staples of life? I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time in my car. There is no public transportation here in Middle America that will take me from home in the county to work in town, or from town to the city, or to even more rural areas that I frequent. Therefore, if I’m going to get where I need to go, I have to drive my car. Thankfully, the old girl still gets 35-41 MPG.

So, inspired by the Librarian in Black, here’s my ransom note:
Lower your gas prices NOW or I will buy an electric car.