Bundling in academia

Academic publishers have jumped deftly from paper to the internet. For more than a decade the dominant model has been the “big deal”. Publishers sell access to large bundles of electronic journals for a price based on what colleges used to pay for paper ones. Prices of big deals rise at about double the rate of inflation.

This model has provided an unprecedented wealth of material to researchers and fat profits to publishers. But fiscal crises, particularly in America, are straining big deals. State funding per university student in Arizona has fallen by roughly half since 2007-08. Libraries have taken a hit.

A library with a bundled subscription deal cannot make ends meet by dropping a few journals, as it could in the old days. Instead it must take the drastic step of leaving the all-you-can-eat buffet for the à la carte restaurant……