Highway Robbery Isn’t Just for Highways Anymore

Highway robberyWe recently got a notice of price changes for some journal titles to which we’ve been subscribing for years. The titles are: Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Theology Today, Biblical Theology Bulletin, and Expository Times.  The increase for these 5 (count ’em, five) titles is 291%. To add insult to injury, we are charged twice for Biblical Theology Bulletin, since we have to pay a supplemental increase for our current year’s print version AND a new subscription for print + online access for next year (no more print-only option).  All of these titles were bought by Sage Publishers this year.

We aren’t the only library suffering due to publisher price increases, and these won’t be the only substantive increases we have to suffer. Several other titles previously published through Biola University have been sold to Sage and will be increasing in price accordingly.

In today’s climate, libraries are increasingly having to make difficult decisions about their collections: Do we continue to subscribe at highway robbery prices? If so, we’ll need to drop other titles to cover these costs.  Or do we take the publisher “deal”: if you subscribe to one of their packages instead of paying, say $500 per title for three journals, you can pay perhaps $1,500 for 50 titles (only 3 of which your patrons have any interest in whatsoever). That’s a great deal, right? After all, you’re getting 47 other titles (with perhaps limited access or other restrictions). Or drop all three titles you can no longer afford to subscribe to something else.

The tipping point to open-access publishing is rapidly approaching, if not already here.

For those who love details, here’s a chart. Our total costs for these 5 titles went from $779/year to $3049/year.

Title Original Cost Increase New Price
Biblical Theology Bulletin – 2017 94 214 308
Biblical Theology Bulletin – 2018 98 134 232
Expository Times 143 350 493
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 212 596 808
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 212 596 808
Theology Today 118 282 400

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