The Cost of Library Subscriptions: Why Open Access Matters

As the new academic year gets into full swing, take a moment to think about the economics of publishing. Where does the academic literature you depend on for your research come from and how much does it cost? Consider these staggering numbers from a recent Science article:

Collectively, the world’s academic libraries pay some €7.6 billion (roughly 9 billion US) in subscription fees for access to between 1.5 million and 2 million new papers annually, or between €3800 ($4,534 US) and €5000 ($5,965 US) per paper, according to an estimate by the Max Planck Society. That creates huge windfalls for publishers such as Wiley, SpringerNature, and particularly Elsevier, which recorded a 37% profit margin last year. (AAAS, the publisher of Science, also benefits from the subscription model.) “About 60% of our budget goes to pay these three publishers,” says Andreas Degkwitz, the chief librarian of Berlin’s Humboldt University. “It cannot go on.” (Read the full article.)

The Jefferson Digital Commons (JDC) is the open access digital repository for works published by Jefferson authors. By depositing your post-prints in the JDC you’ll help researchers around the world find relevant research without navigating paywalls and padding already excessive publisher profits. If you have any questions regarding the JDC, contact: Dan.Kipnis@Jefferson.edu.