Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wiley and Blackwell Acquisition Runs into Opposition from Library Community

The Information Access Alliance has challenged John Wiley & Sons plans to buy Blackwell Publishing (see the November 17 news release announcing the acquisition). In a letter to the United States Department of Justice, the alliance has asked that the merger be subjected to close antitrust scrutiny. The Information Access Alliance is made up of heavy hitting library organizations: the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Medical Libraries Association (MLA), SPARC, and the Special Libraries Association (SLA).

The organizations fear price increases due to consolidation in the industry. The letter mentions that because Blackwell has been so identified with society publishers, its prices have been relatively modest. The authors contrast Blackwell's pricing with Wiley's, citing a Cornell study that found Wiley's prices represent the highest average cost per article of the six largest commercial publishers.

In its announcement, Wiley and Blackwell executives cited the "cultural compatibility" and "complementary strengths" of the two organizations. The combined company would publish over 1200 academic journals.

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