Google's Got All the Marbles
Robert Darnton, head of the Harvard library system, writes in a lengthy article in the February 12th issue of the New York Review of Books:
"Google will enjoy what can only be called a monopoly--a monopoly of a new kind, not of railroads or steel but of access to information. Google has no serious competitors. Google alone has the wealth to digitize on a massive scale. And having settled with the authors and publishers, it can exploit its financial power from within a protective legal barrier; for the class action suit covers the entire class of authors and publishers."
He also discusses the economics of professional journals and how the system has changed over the past hundred years. A portion of his commentary:
"The result stands out on the acquisitions budget of every research library: the Journal of Comparative Neurology now costs $25,910 for a year's subscription; Tetrahedron costs $17,969 (or $39,739, if bundled with related publications as a Tetrahedron package); the average price of a chemistry journal is $3,490; and the ripple effects have damaged intellectual life throughout the world of learning. Owing to the skyrocketing cost of serials, libraries that used to spend 50 percent of their acquisitions budget on monographs now spend 25 percent or less. University presses, which depend on sales to libraries, cannot cover their costs by publishing monographs. And young scholars who depend on publishing to advance their careers are now in danger of perishing."