Happy Friday, y’all! In lieu of the usual academic article or long-ish blogpost, I want to share
two three major Big Deal breakups that were announced in the last couple of days. Iowa State, UNC-Chapel Hill and the entire SUNY system have announced that they are breaking up their Big Deals with Elsevier, switching to an a la carte set of their most-used journal titles. The cuts appear to be quite deep - IA State is retaining 428 journals, UNC is retaining 395 of the 2000 or so titles in the Big Deal, and SUNY has retained a ‘core list’ of 248 titles, which individual institutions in the SUNY system may augment with additional titles if needed to support local priorities.
SUNY and UNC don’t disclose what their total spend will be under the new deal, but UNC did say that to renew the Big Deal would have cost $2.6 million. SUNY says it expects to save between $5 million and $7 million as a result of the change, and that this will represent a 50-70% reduction in their spend on Elsevier. IA State touts that the new deal does not include a non-disclosure provision, so I expect they will publish their agreement eventually.
As we explained when the University of California system made big news by leaving its Elsevier deal last year, the Big Deal has become a bad deal for most libraries: the price is too high in absolute terms, it grows too fast, the value of the bundle is in decline, and the values these publishers represent are no longer aligned with the increasingly open ethos of research. The deep cuts we see at UNC and SUNY may also be consistent with my modest proposal that libraries divest from these deals in order to free up funds to invest in open alternatives, acting proactively to push the market toward models that work better for libraries and researchers.