Our friends at Allen Press have published a useful report entitled "2010 Study of Subscription Prices for Scholarly Society Journals" which examines how US and non-US society publishers are pricing their journals in the face of tough library market cutbacks. The study explains that:

Since 1989, prices for US society journals have increased, on average, 7.3% annually. For each of the past three years, average price increases for US-based journals have hovered around 6%, more than a full percentage point lower than the historical average.

Breaking down these lower-than-normal price increases from the past few years, the study reports:

During 2008 and 2009,more than 60% of print-only titles and titles distributed in both print and online formats raised subscription prices by more than 5% per year (Fig2). Over the course of 2010 and 2011, however, less than 30% of print-only and less than 50% of print plus online delivery journals increased prices by more than 5% per year. Also worth noting is that during 2010 and 2011 nearly 60% of the print-only titles kept prices the same as 2009 (Fig 3).

With regard to online-only publications, 42%increased prices by more than 5% per year during 2010 and 2011 (Fig 3). By comparison, only 32% of online-only titles raised prices by more than 5% per year in 2008 and 2009 (Fig 2).

The context of journal price freezes and smaller increases is, of course, the major budget crisis faced by most libraries since the 2008 economic downturn. Following this, the Allen Press study examines "Cancellation Criteria" and identifies four major themes:

  1. Elimination of subscription duplications was typical.

  2. Institutions sought ways to understand and measure usage.

  3. The "Big Deals" received significant scrutiny.

  4. Use of interlibrary loans is on the rise.

Despite a 2011 outlook that is similar to 2010's, the report makes a series of recommendations including 1.) Offering Creative Price Structures and Incentives, 2) Enhancing Content, and 3.) Generating New Revenue (In New Places). If you have a few minutes, do read through the Allen Press study in its entirety for some interesting statistics and recommended ways forward.



[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="510"] Allen Press. "2010 Study of Subscription Prices for Scholarly Society Journals: Society Journal Pricing Trends and Industry Overview."[/caption]