Cash-strapped librarians help drive change at Elsevier

A quiet revolution is sweeping the US$20 billion academic publishing market and its main operator Elsevier, partly driven by an unlikely group of rebels: cash-strapped librarians, reports the Financial Times.

When Florida State University cancelled its ‘big deal’ contract for all Elsevier’s 2,500 journals last March to save money, the publisher warned it would backfire and cost the library US$1 million extra in pay-per-view fees. But even to the surprise of Gale Etschmaier, dean of Florida State University’s libraries, the charges after eight months were actually less than US$20,000. “Elsevier has not come back to us about ‘the big deal’,” she said, noting it had made up a quarter of her content budget before the terms were changed.

Mutinous librarians such as Etschmaier remain in a minority, but are one of a host of pressures bearing down on the subscription business of Elsevier, the 140-year-old publisher that produces titles including the world’s oldest medical journal, The Lancet. The company is facing a profound shift in the way it does business, as customers reject traditional charging structures.
Full report on the Financial Times site