Library Trends 67 (2) Fall 2018: The Role and Impact of Commercial and Noncommercial Publishers in Scholarly Publishing on Academic Libraries [Restricted Access]


Library Trends 67 (2) Fall 2018: The Role and Impact of Commercial and Noncommercial Publishers in Scholarly Publishing on Academic Libraries. Edited by Lewis G. Liu.

The scholarly publishing market plays a critical role in modern societies since it communicates research findings to researchers, businesses, and industries. Scientific research findings are expected to lead to innovations, inventions, and new products and services that are driving forces of countries' economic growth and development. Research findings in social sciences and business are expected to provide policy guidance for improving individuals' lives and organizational effectiveness and efficiency of businesses, nonprofit institutions, and government agencies. Academic libraries have always been part of the scholarly publishing market since they represent the demand side of the market equilibrium and play an important role in acquiring, maintaining, and delivering scholarly publications. The changes in the scholarly publishing market such as price increases for packaged journal subscriptions and ebooks can have an impact on academic libraries' budgets, and therefore affect their collections and acquisitions policies and decisions. While inflation is a factor in price increases, the oligopoly behavior of a few large commercial publishers can be a cause of price increases in journal and book prices. In fact, commercial publishers have been reshaping the scholarly publishing industry in recent decades and continue to expand their presence as a dominant force in today's scholarly publishing market, whereas the presence of noncommercial publishers, particularly the presence of university presses, has been diminishing, and some of them have been consolidated into library operations (Clement 2011) to achieve economies of scope. Commercial publishers control a larger share of scholarly information products, including print books, ebooks, open access journals, and research databases. The lack of competition in the scholarly publishing market can only lead to increased prices for these information products. It is not uncommon to see a few large corporations dominating an industry in the current global economic system. They hire workers to make products, and then sell them to consumers who usually are not part of the production process. What is unique in the scholarly publishing market is that scholarly content creators are also consumers of their own products and their institutions have to buy back the very creations of their own research, in many cases at a higher price than they are willing and able to pay.

In this Library Trends volume, we have gathered academic researchers, practicing librarians, and library administrators who have research expertise and working experiences in their respective subject areas to examine the role and impact of commercial and noncommercial publishers in scholarly publishing on academic libraries. Given the time constraint to complete this research project and maximum total pages allowed, we are not able to address as many topics as we would like. We, however, have covered some important issues related to the theme of this Library Trends volume.

Scholarly publishing mainly consists of journal and book publishing. Although consumers, providers, and content creators of scholarly journals and books are more or less the same groups of individuals and organizations, journals and books are different types of information products. Journals are demanded in a more timely manner than are books. Researchers need the most recent research results from their fellow researchers to update their own research. Journals in general are more expensive than books partly because the timely demand for journals drives up their prices. Therefore, journals and books belong to separate information markets and will be discussed as such.

Library Trends (ISSN 0024-2594) is an essential tool for librarians and educators alike. Each issue thoroughly explores a current topic of interest in professional librarianship and includes practical applications, thorough analyses, and literature reviews. The journal is published quarterly for the Graduate School of Library and Information Science by The Johns Hopkins University Press. For subscription information, call 800-548-1784 (410-516-6987 outside the U.S. and Canada), email jlorder [at], or visit

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