Thursday, January 21, 2010

EBSCO and the 19th Century

EBSCO is neolithic. Oh, sure it's all high tech and database-y, but its aggressive policies reek of imperialism and monopolies. In this day of open source and creative commons, its outdated.

What fomented such a rant on my usually benign blog? An email I received from Gale (who, granted, have a stake in this) described a bidding war they've been having with EBSCO over Time, Inc. and Forbes content.

Gale's bid allowed for other services to carry the content in a spirit of equal access. EBSCO's much-higher bid included rights as sole provider, which offends my democratic, openly-sourced soul to the core. Guess who won?

I blame Time and Forbes as much as EBSCO. These are not some obscure, highly specialized journals, but popular periodicals for the mass market. Limiting them to the often exorbitantly expensive EBSCO narrows public access prodigiously. While Gale is equally expensive, their bid (which they excerpted here) allows other, possibly cheaper, companies to also carry the content.

I used to think this was a problem limited to academic libraries: having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to access specialized content not available elsewhere. Apparently corporate greed is seeping down the food chain.

This seems like a virtual hi-jacking; it forces libraries to purchase EBSCO databases if they want to provide basic content to their patrons. Moreover, who do you think will really pay the artificially high price EBSCO forked out for the periodicals? It's going to be passed on to us, of course.

If you'd like to add your voice to the protest, you can join the Facebook group "Librarians for Fair Access to Content" (started by Gale, and I'm not sure what joining a Facebook group will do, but I'll pass along the info!). Or we can start a flood of Tweets.

You can email EBSCO or call Time, Inc. at 212.522.1212. (I can't seem to find a non-subscription email address).

Come the revolution, brother!


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  2. Hi Jeri,

    Thank you for participating in and encouraging active discussion around the practice of exclusive licensing agreements and their potential impact on the library community.

    Pat Sommers, Gale’s president, has shared his perspective on the two core strategies adopted by leading aggregators today. Based on the content of this blog entry, we thought you might be interested in these new insights.

    Thanks again for joining the conversation.


    Harmony Faust
    Marketing Programs Manager
    Gale, a part of Cengage Learning