23:3 (2008:09) 23rd Conference (2008): Strategy Session: Stung If You Do, Stung if You Don’t?

August 26, 2008 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Strategy Sessions | Leave a comment

STRATEGY SESSION

Stung If You Do, Stung If You Don’t?  The Good and the Bad of the Big Deal
Steve Fallon, Accucoms; Gary Ives, Texas A&M University
Reported by Sarah Tusa

Steve Fallon began the presentation with an overview of events in the publishing industry that have influenced the development of the big deal.  He explained that smaller publishers have been losing ground as print subscriptions declined and the market changed with evolving technology.  Hence, small publishers began outsourcing their sales and marketing services to companies such as Accucom, which has the means to acquire feedback from libraries and provide that information to the publishers.  With this purpose in mind, Accucom launched a market survey, the results of which Fallon shared in this strategy session.

Surveying a combination of public, state, and private college and university libraries, the survey revealed that among those libraries that responded, 70% have a 5-8% fixed price increase as part of a big deal agreement.  At the same time, however, 69% of responding libraries receive only a 5% or less annual budget increase.  Furthermore, 66% reported an annual budget increase that is less than the fixed price increase.  In general, private academic libraries fared better, presumably because of endowments.  It comes as no surprise that when the price increases are higher than the incoming revenues, something has to go.  According to the survey results, the majority of cancellations are print subscriptions.  Fallon listed several suggestions for reducing the attrition rate, none of which was particularly new.  For example, cooperative collection development has been around for decades; and if there are sources for external additional funding, libraries have probably tapped those sources already, since these spiraling price increases have been going on for years.  The suggestion that was most noticeably missing was the probably heretical idea that larger publishers might actually tighten their proverbial belts.

Gary Ives spoke of the big deal experience at Texas A&M, a multi-campus system, offering distance education programs.   After listing the overall advantages and disadvantages of participating in a big deal package, he revealed the results of a cost-per-use analysis. The analysis was based on a 2006 usage report and 2007 contract pricing.  Interestingly, the analysis revealed an average cost-per-use of $4.43, while individual titles ranged from 21 cents to $285.53.  Two titles had a cost-per-use of over $100.00, and 8 titles averaged over $50.00 per use As a footnote, Ives emphasized the necessity to account for title-level costs by subject area.  He also expressed a shared sense of exasperation at having to reconcile title lists on an annual basis.

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