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November 05, 2003

The Trouble with Elsevier

Big scholarly libraries are getting into trouble because the attitudes of publishers such as Elsevier. Elsevier holds a monopoly in a number of areas of scholarly journals and has been raising prices of these journal significantly over the past years (Elsevier reported a 10% growth in profit last year). To the extend that for example at Cornell 20% of the serials budget goes to Elsevier which only represents 2% of the number of periodicals. As library budgets have not grown at the same rates, they need to drop journals from their lists. Elsevier however has a subscription plan that work such that when you drop some journals, the remaining subscriptions automatically get more expensive. Elsevier is completely unwilling to work with the libraries to find a solution. At Cornell the situation has reached a boiling point and the library has decided to take drastic action and cut several hundreds of Elsevier Journals.

At Computer Science we have decided to no longer subscribe to any Elsevier journals. A number of voices have been heard that want to go even further any no longer send articles to Elsevier Journals. It is a strange situation given that Elsevier depends on us, scientists and scholars, to produce their content, but they are completely unwilling to work towards a solution. This creates enormous resentment in the community, and Elsevier will get hurt.

More details on the general problem can be found on the Cornell Issues in Scholarly Communication site and specifically on The Elsevier Problem page.

Posted by Werner Vogels at November 5, 2003 10:41 AM