Re: Publishers Profits

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 12:59:17 +0100

Dear Colin,

I read the accessible one of the 2 articles you suggested below, and I
can quite understand why they distress the library community but I have
to reiterate (and it is for the sake of the library community that I do
so): This is all ABSOLUTELY IRRELEVANT to the open-access initiative,
insofar as freeing access to the peer-reviewed journal literature is

The only way to free access to that literature is via BOAI Strategy
1 (self-archiving) and/or BOAI Strategy 2 (creating/converting to
open-access journals).

Both S1 and S2 are in the hands of researchers and their institutions;
they are NOT within the hands of libraries or librarians (although the
latter would greatly benefit from the success of S1 and S2). Nor is the
real cause the size of publishers' profits: it is that access-tolls need
to be paid at all, to this give-away peer-reviewed research, written by
and for researchers.

It has so far proved difficult, and is certainly taking much longer than
it might, to persuade researchers and their institutions that something
needs to be done, and what that something is (S1 & S2). The appeal can
only be to what is in the direct interest of researchers and their
institutions (namely, the uptake and impact of their own research, and
their access to the research of others). Researchers have no interest
whatsoever in the details of the journal publishing profit-margins, nor,
alas, in the details of library woes. S1 and S2 have to be shown to
benefit THEM, not to benefit libraries or punish venal publishers.

So I am convinced that focussing on Elsevier's profits, etc. is simply
a distraction, at a time when what is really needed is a much clearer
focus on what really needs to be done, how, and why, now.

Best wishes,


On Fri, 28 Jun 2002, Colin Steele wrote:

> You might be interested in the lengthy interview with Crispin Davis CEO of Reed Elsevier in which he states "how he turned the outfit around, why he seldom checks the stock price, and how his secretary keeps her job"
> and also the piece in the UK Bookseller for 7 June 2002 on Taylor and Francis on the career of Anthony Selvey and the profits he made including the statement "Companies such as Taylor and Francis earn most of their revenues from institutional Libraries (that) look like safe havens" I don't think this article is on line.
Received on Fri Jun 28 2002 - 12:59:17 BST

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