Pay-per view in the US and the UK

Added by Michael Jubb on 30 January 2010 18:51

It?s interesting to find in the current issue of Against the Grain a series of articles on pay-per-view as a mechanism for academic libraries to provide access to journal articles. Against the Grain is very much a US publication, closely associated with the annual Charleston Conference, and the series of articles makes clear that the libraries of a number of US universities (especially those focused on teaching) have decided to adopt the pay-per-view model.

One of the articles, by Patrick Carr from East Carolina University, mentions the trial of usage-based pricing in the UK in 2004, as reported on by Paul Harwood and Albert Prior in an article in Learned Publishing a couple of years ago. That trial found that the administrative burdens and loss of financial control meant that pay-per-view was not an attractive option for UK university libraries. And it is notable that when we held a series of focus groups with library directors from across the HE sector late last year, that finding was backed up. The purpose of the focus groups was to review the latest evidence on how UK libraries are dealing with cuts in their budgets, and one of the key issues that arose was how to reduce the costs of their subscriptions to scholarly journals. But pay-per-view was hardly mentioned. US and UK experience and thinking do indeed seem to be different.

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