John Wiley and Sons recently announced its plans to acquire Blackwell Publishing, a publisher of scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals, for a price of $1.08 billion. This increase in concentration in an already concentrated market is cause for substantial concern on the part of the library community. The combined company will control more than 1,200 titles, many of them scholarly society journals.
The Information Access Alliance (IAA), representing the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the American Library Association, the Association for College and Research Libraries, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Medical Library Association, SPARC, and the Special Library Association, wrote to the US Department of Justice on November 29 asking that they act to issue a second request for information from the two companies and review the market and the merger. The IAA letter to the Department of Justice is available on the Web http://informationaccess.org/wiley.blackwell.pdf.
The IAA is deeply concerned that this transaction will exacerbate market dysfunctions and result in further reduction in access to critical research information that fuels the entire higher education and research enterprise. Both John Wiley and Sons and Blackwell Publishing currently use bundled pricing models; a recent study by ARL gathered data from its member libraries documenting that bundling practices reduce customer choice, hurt small publishers, and create barriers to entry (see http://www.arl.org/newsltr/245/bundle.html).
Information on publisher mergers and related antitrust issues is available on the Information Access Alliance Web site http://www.informationaccess.org/.
Thanks to the Association of Research Libraries for distributing this information.
Posted by P. Kaufman at December 6, 2006 7:47 AM