Bloomberg Law wants to get out of the print business (except, perhaps, for its treatise product line). I know of no BLaw press release announcing this fundamental change in publishing model but to its credit the Company explained its plans in some detail to CRIV earlier this year.

Last summer BLaw announced to CRIV that it was moving toward becoming a digital-only publisher because, the company explained, law libraries are moving away from print. True for law firms — 75% of total information budget is spent on electronic information.  Less so for academic law libraries — 44% of total information budget is spent on electronic information. And much less so for public sector law libraries — 35% of total information budget is spent on electronic information according to AALL statistics.

The transition from BNA Law Reports in print to the news platform is a major component of this strategy to reinvent the Company.  Not offering new Bloomberg Law online subscribers print materials for sale started some two years ago and that is another major component. Now BLaw is transitioning existing clients to its digital-only model. Or should I say, digital-almost-only model.

BLaw reported to CRIV that Tax Management Portfolios and Corporate Practice Series will continue in print for the time being. “No print sunset has been determined at this time. Subscribers will be notified in advance when an end date is determined.” Until that date is determined, BLaw is executing a sales policy similar to LexisNexis tying its print products availability to entering into a subscription for Lexis Advance. One difference: while LexisNexis has no coherent publishing strategy and is just trying to improve its bottom line by holding print hostage to digital, BLaw is trying to move to digital-only publishing by pricing some of its most valued print resources out of existence.

With regret, my county law library cancelled all BNA print and e-resources several years ago. We simply couldn’t afford to maintain our subscriptions. Now several of my Ohio county law library colleagues are grappling with BLaw demands as their print editions of BNA’s portfolio series come up for renewal.

For existing subscribers of BLaw BNA print portfolios, the Company now is requiring law libraries to subscribe to at least one seat for Bloomberg Law in order to have the privilege of subscribing to the print editions of Tax Management Portfolios and/or Corporate Practice Series for an additional expense. One Ohio county law library recently calculated that BLaw’s tying is almost a 300% increase over its cost for subscribing just to portfolios in print. That county law library, one of Ohio’s largest, cancelled its BNA print and did not subscribe to Bloomberg Law. So did another Ohio county law library. And a third, also one of Ohio’s largest county law libraries, will probably cancel if it does not receive some concessions from the Company. That’s how Ohio’s public sector is responding to BLaw.

I wonder how many other law libraries are simply walking away from BLaw in response to this new digital-almost-only sales policy. I guess subscriber cancellations in response to take-it-or-leave-it negotiations tactics is one way to reinvent yourself as a digital-only publisher. Unfortunately BLaw’s fundamental changes impact the law library marketplace unevenly.  Arguably private law firm libraries are more capable of paying the increased cost than either academic or public law libraries.

From the blurb for Kyle Banerjee & Terry Reese, Jr., Building Digital Libraries, 2d ed., (ALA Neal-Schuman, 2019):

Whether you’re embarking on the challenge of building a digital collection from scratch, or simply need to understand the conceptual and technical challenges of constructing a digital library, this top-to-bottom resource is the ideal guidebook to keep at your side, especially in this thoroughly updated and reworked edition. Demonstrating how resources are created, distributed, and accessed, and how librarians can keep up with the latest technologies for successfully completing these tasks, its chapters walk you step-by-step through every stage. Demystifying core technologies and workflows, this book comprehensively covers

  • needs assessment and planning for a digital repository;
  • choosing a platform;
  • acquiring, processing, classifying, and describing digital content;
  • storing and managing resources in a digital repository;
  • digital preservation;
  • technologies and standards useful to digital repositories, including XML, the Portland Common Data Model, metadata schema such as Dublin Core, scripting using JSON and REST, linked open data, and automated metadata assignment;
  • sharing data and metadata;
  • understanding information-access issues, including digital rights management; and
  • analyzing repository use, planning for the future, migrating to new platforms, and accommodating new types of data.

From the webinar’s announcement:

Licensing electronic resources must be undertaken in a way that supports the library’s mission by providing access to the highest possible number of databases, electronic journals, eBooks, and streaming media at the lowest possible cost. While the specific objectives and strategies of libraries will vary, skilled librarians must undertake a number of complex tasks in order to successfully license electronic resources. Some of the most important of these tasks or objectives include: negotiating the best possible terms in complex license agreements, maintaining positive working relationships with library vendors, communicating important information to internal and external constituencies, tracking changes in business models and relevant technologies, providing data for collection analysis, as well as coordinating their work with library administrators. This webinar series will cover these and other topics that address the needs of librarians working with the licensing of electronic resources.

This six-part series includes the following sessions:

August 22, 2018- Fundamentals of Licensing Electronic Resources

August 29, 2018 – Managing & Implementing Licensing Agreements for Electronic Resources, Part I

September 5, 2018 – Managing & Implementing Licensing Agreements for Electronic Resources, Part II

September 12, 2018 – Negotiation & Cost Containment Strategies for Electronic Resources

September 25, 2018 – Legal Issues in Licensing Electronic Resources

October 3, 2018 – Licensing Electronic Resources for Consortia

During this six-part webinar series, attendees will learn the fundamental structure of contracts, commonly used terms, and how to address indemnification clauses, constraints on use permissions, problems of legal jurisdiction, perpetual access rights, and some more recent developments such as the pursuit of text and data mining rights. Contributors will also explore some complex legal issues and other aspects of electronic resources management including how to maintain positive working relationships with vendors, track important changes in business models and technologies, and control costs. Above all, attendees should understand how licensing does not occur in a vacuum, but must be well grounded in a complex chain of information exchange within and beyond the library, all of which should be undertaken to support the library’s mission as understood and implemented by the library administration.

— Joe

Kendall Svengalis has published the 2018 edition of his Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual. Updates include:

  • Fifty eight (58) additional pages of material, now totaling 1,019 pages
  • More than 90 new treatises, reference titles, and other product reviews (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliographies of legal treatises in 67 subject areas, including 77 titles on Legal Research and Writing, with new, used, electronic, and West Monthly Assured Print Pricing on more than 2,700 titles in all (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliography of legal reference titles (Chapter 22)
  • Updated bibliographies of state legal resources and research guides, including the cost of CALR offerings (Chapter 28)
  • Completely updated bibliographic data for all covered titles
  • Completely updated cost and supplementation figures through 2018, with supplementation figures through 2017 (and 2018 for Matthew Bender).
  • Completely updated cost spreadsheet for supplemented titles (Appendix G)
  • Completely updated charts and tables reflecting 2017 annual reports and pricing data
  • Completely updated sample Westlaw and Lexis costs (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated sample CALR costs for all vendors (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of published state statutory codes
  • Recent industry developments and acquisitions, including profit margins (Chapter 2)
  • Updated information on Fastcase and Law360
  • Cumulative supplementation cost data going back 25 years — all at your fingertips — to guide your acquisitions and de-acquisitions decisions
  • Special alerts of egregious price and supplementation cost increases in recent years

Order here. Strongly recommended. — Joe

Last week, SSRN and Bepress announced a joint pilot to explore integration between their two platforms. The four-month pilot launches today with the participation of Columbia Law School’s Arthur W. Diamond Law Library and University of Georgia School of Law’s Library. From the Bepress press release:

Both bepress and SSRN are eager to explore potential solutions to the obstacles that professional schools and their libraries face in promoting their open access scholarship. The initial pilot offers one possible model for demonstrating the increased reach of legal scholarship when work is available through an open access repository as well as a specialized network of peers, by simplifying population of and aggregating research impact from both platforms.

Wait ‘n see. — Joe

“Is using paper out of style? There are a lot of advantages to making things digital but that doesn’t have to make paper obsolete. In this episode of the Legal Toolkit, host Jared Correia talks to Ed Walters [CEO of Fastcase] about the role of print mediums in law. They reexamine when to use paper versus digital mediums; both printed paper and digital copies have their own quality and characteristics that are useful in different cases. Ed also nerds out about font and classic printing methods, which is useful if you want to make your printed documents beautiful.” Transcript and audio broadcast. — Joe

According to AALL’s 2017 Biennial Salary Survey & Organizational Characteristics, total information budgets increased substantially for government and law firm/corporate law libraries but not academic law libraries when compared to the 2015 survey results. Government libraries’ information budget increased 31% and law firm/corporate law libraries’ information budgets increased 26%. Academic law libraries’ information budgets were flat.

Electronic information budgets as a percent of total information budgets essentially was unchanged for government law libraries in 2017 at 35%. Not so for other market segments. Electronic information budgets as a percent of total information budget rose 16% for law schools, from 38% in 2015 to 44% of total information budgets in 2017. Law firm/corporate law libraries’ electronic information budgets rose 9%, from 69% to a record 75% of total information budgets in 2017. No time in the history of AALL’s biennial surveys has a market segment reached this 75% milestone. Is the end of this substitution trend in sight? I have my doubts. — Joe

Over 50% of large law firms license only Lexis or only Westlaw according to Feit Consulting. Some 22% of BigLaw firms with 750+ attorneys have gone solo provider. Michael Feit looks at the duopoly of our very expensive search vendors and the best route for individual firms in One of the largest law firms goes sole provider, does this finally foretell the Wexis monopoly demise in the largest segment?

Feit Consulting has been monitoring the sole provider trend for over a decade. As corporate clients pushed back on research costs, firms were not able to recover costs entirely. The affect on the bottom line pushed some firms to make the decision to go sole provider. The freedom of funds allows firms and organizations to purchase wish-list software and technology to enhance the delivery of legal information. While this has worked for some, the big question is whether it is the right decision for your firm or organization.

H/T to PinHawk’s Legal Administrator Daily — Joe

Late in 2017, Overdrive will launch a cost-per-circulation pricing model for eBooks and audiobooks that will enable libraries to provide a patron-driven acquisition model for select titles from OverDrive’s Marketplace catalog. When selecting a book under the cost-per circulation model, libraries will be charged only when a patron borrows a title. For more, see OverDrive’s blog post. — Joe


The 2017 edition of Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual is now available. Enhancements include:

  • More than 80 new treatises, reference titles, and other product reviews (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliographies of legal treatises in 66 subject areas, including 77 titles on Legal Research and Writing, with new, used, electronic, and West Monthly Assured Print Pricing on more than 2,600 titles in all (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliography of legal reference titles (Chapter 22)
  • Updated bibliographies of state legal resources and research guides (Chapter 28)
  • Completely updated bibliographic data for all covered titles
  • Completely updated cost and supplementation figures through 2017, with supplementation figures through 2016 (and 2017 for Matthew Bender).
  • Completely updated cost spreadsheet for supplemented titles (Appendix H)
  • Completely updated charts and tables reflecting 2016 annual reports and pricing data
  • Completely updated sample Westlaw and Lexis costs (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated sample CALR costs for all vendors (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of caselaw coverage for all CALR vendors
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of published state statutory codes
  • Recent industry developments and acquisitions, including profit margins (Chapter 2)
  • Updated information on Fastcase and Law360
  • Cumulative supplementation cost data going back 24 years — all at your fingertips — to guide your acquisitions and de-acquisitions decisions
  • Special alerts of egregious price and supplementation cost increases in recent years

Highly recommended. — Joe

“The shift to digital delivery of serials content has had a profound effect on the information ecosystem” but not on pricing models report Stephen Bosch and Kittie Henderson in their LJ article, New World, Same Model: Periodical Pricing Survey 2017. “Most publishers have explored new ways of pricing their content—such as population served, FTE (full-time equivalent), tiered pricing based upon Carnegie classification, or other defining criteria—or the database model, which treats all content within an e-journal package as a database, eliminating the need for title by title reconciliation. However, in the end, the pricing conversation always seems to circle back to the revenue generated by the annual subscription model.” Here’s what the authors forecast:

The 2018 serials marketplace will continue to see steady price increases, with no indicators that this will change. Drivers in the marketplace, such as budget compression, currency fluctuation, OA, government mandates, shifts in the global political climate, new assessment and evaluation tools, and alternating patterns of the distribution of information offered by research platforms and social networks have not changed the fundamentals of the business models, and serials price inflation remains constant. Publisher and vendor consolidation will continue, and libraries will actively manage their portfolios to get the biggest return for their dollars. Annual price inflation has hovered in the 6% range since 2012. As in previous years, the 6% average price increase seen in 2017 is expected to be much the same for 2018. The mature market seems to have found the 5%–6% equilibrium a rate of increase that neither libraries nor publishers like but with which both can work.

— Joe

I get press releases. Oh do I get press releases from publicists on some of the wackiest topics out there.  I’m not going to go into that because there is one that actually relates to something in which I’m interested.  I’ve written about the shrinking print collection before, especially when it relates to primary materials.  I have advocated cancelling reporter subscriptions because there is so many alternative sources for it in subscription and free databases.  Mind you, it should be a thoughtful cancellation considering how well the online alternatives can be a solid substitute.  The same applies to secondary sources where the treatise is available through an electronic subscription via Lexis, Westlaw, or another electronic library package.  I believe we at DePaul are not unique in considering the issues.

Well, back to the press release part.  The Primary Research Group has issued a commercial study on the shrinking print collections.  It’s called Law Library Plans for the Print Materials Collection, ISBN 978-157440-353-4.  Here’s a sample set of stats from the publication:

  • The cumulative 2-year drop in spending on print resources from 2014-2016 by the law firms in the sample is expected to be 22.6%.
  • For small law firm libraries the number of subscriptions to print journals went from 66.67 to 51.67 and then to an anticipated 45 over the three year period, a cumulative 2-year drop of 32%.
  • Primary works accounted for a mean of 35.53% of spending on print legal materials with a median of 30% and a range of 5% to 90%. For law school libraries, print primary materials accounted for 54% of the total print materials budget, a much higher percentage than for law firm libraries 28%, or government law libraries, 32.86%.

The last one is interesting.  We in the academic business try to prepare students for the tools that they can expect to use in practice.  If law firms are buying less print, and I’m assuming a firm in this situation is using an online database, why are academic libraries still buying at a much higher percentage?  But, hey, that’s just me wondering that.

Here is more information about the report:

The study is currently available as a PDF and will be available in book format on September 9, 2015 and can be ordered now. The price for either version is $135.00; site licenses are also available. To view the table of contents, an excerpt, questionnaire and list of participants, view our website at http://www.PrimaryResearch.com or visit the product page for this report at http://www.primaryresearch.com/view_product.php?report_id=561.

The question I’m thinking about now is how to utilize the space that will become available.  I’ll write my thoughts about that later.

Mark

There is an interesting article from the CBC called Academic publishers reap huge profits as libraries go broke.  The sub-title is “5 companies publish more than 70 per cent of research papers, study finds.”  There is a constant cry from academic libraries in the United States, and I assume Canada, over the cost increases in scientific, medical, and social science journals.  Harvard University in fact joined that chorus three years ago in encouraging its scholars to publish in open source publications.  Academic libraries in some situations dropped Elsevier subscriptions in protest.  Others joined in as well.

The CBC article documents a study of publishers by Vincent Larivière and others from the University of Montreal’s School of Library and Information Science.  He found that the top five journal publishers held 53% of the academic journal market and had a 40% profit margin.  This sentence explains why that is possible.

“The quality control is free, the raw material is free, and then you charge very, very high amounts – of course you come up with very high profit margins.”

Indeed.  There is a link to the full paper within the article.  Here’s the abstract:

The consolidation of the scientific publishing industry has been the topic of much debate within and outside the scientific community, especially in relation to major publishers’ high profit margins. However, the share of scientific output published in the journals of these major publishers, as well as its evolution over time and across various disciplines, has not yet been analyzed. This paper provides such analysis, based on 45 million documents indexed in the Web of Science over the period 1973-2013. It shows that in both natural and medical sciences (NMS) and social sciences and humanities (SSH), Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor & Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. Disciplines of the social sciences have the highest level of concentration (70% of papers from the top five publishers), while the humanities have remained relatively independent (20% from top five publishers). NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics. The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact. It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.

It’s published in PLOS ONE, which is an open source journal.

Mark

There is an interesting discussion going on at my library.  As others may be doing, we are considering the proper mix between print and online resources.  ABA law school accreditation Standard 606 now allows for “a core collection of essential materials through ownership or reliable access.”  It’s that last part, “reliable access,” that triggers deep soul searching of what to buy in print or what to buy as an electronic subscription.  Tempering the rule are other qualifications that state the core collection should support faculty scholarship and the curriculum, and that a collection that consists of a single format may violate Standard 606.

In this context I’ve recommended that we drop the National Reporter System, ALRs, CJS, multiple state codes, and selected treatises that are online.  This may sound radical to some.  I know that law schools and libraries are experiencing budget cuts due to lower enrollment.  That drives part of the analysis.  Another factor that bears thought is what we teach these days.  The legal writing program at DePaul started teaching all electronic research.  We experienced a drop in library visits as a consequence.  No more treasure hunts, no answering the same questions over and over at the reference desk.

I can remember how far we’ve come in electronic access.  We used to teach print resources because that’s what the legal market had out there.  Now electronic access to case law and other primary sources is ubiquitous.  At one time it was viable to teach print because the databases were based on print.  Understand the organization of print and the online version would make more sense.  That’s not so true anymore.  Online database providers no longer think in terms of echoing print other than citation and star paging.  Certainly there was a time when case law on Westlaw was organized by reporter.  Not anymore.  It’s all jurisdictional, and that seems natural now compared to looking for a database containing the Northeastern Reporter.

Look at how citators have changed.  There was a time when Shepards online would be no more current than the latest print update.  Even the CD-ROM product mirrored print.  Now everything is dynamic.  I can’t imagine why anyone would want to subscribe to the print edition at this point.  We cancelled our print copies years ago. If anything was made easier by online access, Shepards, KeyCite, and citators in general are it.  They are more complete, can be filtered, and everything is spelled out instead of interpreting symbols attached to citations.

Then there are law reviews.  I have to say how much I like Hein Online when it comes to law reviews.  Everything back to day one is there in PDF format more or less.  We still get paper copies of law reviews but discard them once they appear on Hein.  No more binding these books for the collection.  Google Scholar works as a handy index to Hein content as well as other scholarly databases.

So now the next question is what is the proper mix for print and online?  I know that some libraries have already dropped major primary resources such as reporters.  In one sense, we are behind the curve on making that set of decisions.  Never in my career had I thought I would be part of this kind of decision.  Times change.  I find that I’m not very sentimental about physical materials that no one uses at my library.

Mark

Well perhaps and, if so, apparently only in … wait for it … Spain! As a friend would say, “you can’t make this shit up.”

Thomson Reuters ProView™ has partnered with third-party vendors to offer our customers the ability to manage their eBook libraries. This program allows users to read eBooks using the proprietary ProView platform, while using the library management system they prefer.

Through a library management system setup, librarians have a single view of all eBooks in their library – regardless of source – and will be able to manage eBook acquisitions, cataloging and circulation.  Libraries can purchase an eBook copy that can be accessed by any user – either named or anonymous – with check-in and check-out functionality.

Thomson Reuters Spain has currently partnered with Odilo on library management system development. Additional affiliations with partners in Spain will be available for release later in 2013.  Visit Odilo’s website to learn more about their capabilities.

Quoting from Library Management Systems.

One also cannot make this shit up — No one from Spain was in the audience when a TR rep displayed the above-linked web page to pitch the Company’s “library management systems” for ProView titles at an eBook session during ORALL’s Annual Meeting.

Here in the U.S., law librarians solve the problems created by “legal solutions” vendors like Thomson Reuters. At this point in time, I believe the solution lies in not buying a single TR ProView eBook until the acquired eBook can be loaned out and can be discovered by a vendor agnostic OPAC. Rumor has it that TR was but no longer is discussing the OPAC matter with EOS. — Joe

Starting at slide 11, Bess Reynolds, Technical Services Manager, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, addresses pain points, budgetary concerns and the failure of vendors to develop library management tools, issues all law libraries, large and small in the private and public sectors, face in acquiring and maintaining today’s digital resources. From her Oct. 4, 2013 presentation at LLNE’s Fall Meeting, “Acquiring and Maintaining Resources for the New Collection” [complete stack below], pain points include:

  • Substituting digital formats for print without proper notice;
  • Digital versions of print serials that circulated to many may come with a prohibitively high single user price tag; and
  • Creating proprietary platforms for eBooks thwarting single silo for discovery

With respect to vendors failing to develop library management tools, Bess notes that busy lawyers don’t have time to register themselves on web sites, manage their passwords and learn new platforms. Internal IT department restrictions designed to protect an institution’s network results in attorneys and librarians not able to install applications or vendor plug-ins. And, of course, any new vendor software scheme requires extensive in-house testing.

It is “important for publishers to hear directly from their customers” because official AALL vendor relations dogma maintains that “we don’t all have the same needs and perspectives.” I believe Bess Reynolds’ presentation underscores that working law librarians are grappling with the same issues regardless of their institutional setting when it comes to acquiring and maintaining resources for the new normal in collection development. — Joe