Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Business as Usual?

Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Business as Usual?

Article excerpt

The relationships between publishers, booksellers (or agents) and libraries have always been characterized by certain ambiguities. In some ways these three groups are mutually supportive, in other ways they are competitors. For example, libraries buy books, thus providing income for publishers and retailers. But they also lend books, thus perhaps depriving publishers and retailers of potential sales.

In recent years, electronic marketing has disturbed the traditional balance of power in this triangle of mutual dependency. In particular, it has given publishers a royal road to the consumer, bypassing retailers and libraries. Although libraries do continue to act as intermediaries between users and publishers, the long back runs of journals, which used to be the glory of their collections, are fast disappearing.

To make matters worse, libraries are increasingly confronted by high "institutional" prices. The rationale of high institutional pricing is that libraries are giving access to numerous individuals, and should be prepared to pay accordingly. But surely libraries are actually helping publishers to sell their product, both by endorsing it and by distributing information about it in numerous ways. …

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