It has, however, not proved possible to keep price increases in line with inflation at a time when libraries are under increasing pressure to make savings.
Over the last two decades, the prices of academic e-resources – especially journals – have gone up by more than the rate of inflation and by more than the rate at which budgets have risen for academic institutions in Denmark.
Concluding the 2016 negotiations, DEFF managed to continue keeping the rate of the price increases down for most of the agreements, which means that the trend is heading in the right direction.
While the results are better than previous years, there is still room for improvement if cancellations of more e-licence subscriptions in the future are to be avoided.
Greater complexity and new pricing models
In their attempts to boost earnings, publishers not only directly increase prices, often they adjust the principles upon which they base their pricing models as well – increasingly adopting usage of individual products as a pricing parameter.
In this light, DEFF focuses on usage analysis when preparing its negotiating strategy and has also made international collaboration relating to monitoring a higher priority. DEFF expects the preparatory work for future negotiations to be even more extensive, particularly with regard to statistics and usage analysis, as publishers increasingly refer to increased usage as an argument for altering their pricing models.
“In a digital age, increased usage is the rule, not the exception. Essentially, only the increases that deviate from expectations are interesting. We must intensify efforts to challenge the logic frequently cited by publishers – that higher usage always equates to added value for academic institutions,” said DEFF special adviser Dyveke Sjim.
From “big deals” to national framework agreements
The character of the agreements entered into by DEFF has changed somewhat in recent years. The consortium is now to a greater extent concluding framework agreements that allow institutions to choose between a range of tailored solutions, rather than “one-size-fits-all” agreements to sell the same product to all institutions.
This new form of agreement is a reaction both to the publishers’ ever more extensive content packages, and the institutions’ declining budgets.
The outcome of this approach is clear – negotiations under the DEFF umbrella still results in savings on a national level.