big publishers increasingly treat their content not as separate journals but as a single massive database. Subscription buys access to the whole database. If a library cancels their subscription, they lose access to the whole database. This bundling, or "big deal", leverages a small number of must-have journals to ensure that cancellation of even low-value journals, the vast majority in the bundle, is very unlikely. It is more expensive to subscribe individually to the few high-value journals than to take the "big deal". Thus cancellation of large publisher journals is a low risk, which is the goal of the "big deal" scheme.On July 5 Elsevier mailed their subscribers about 2008 pricing. The mail confirmed that both individual print journals and individual e-journal subscriptions are history.
On July 6 the Association of Subscription Agents (an interested party) issued a press release that clarified the impact of Elsevier's move:
Libraries face a choice between Science Direct E-Selects (a single journal title purchased in electronic format only on a multiple password basis rather than a site licence), or a Science Direct Standard or Complete package (potentially a somewhat more expensive option but with the virtue of a site licence).
Libraries must now pay the full rate for both the print and the E-Select (electronic) option if they required both formats. This separation of the print from the electronic also leaves European customer open to Value Added Tax on the E-Select version which, depending on the EU country involved could add substantially to the cost (17.5% in the UK, 19% in Germany for example).It is clear that Elsevier, at least, is determined to ensure that its customers subscribe only to the electronic "big deal" because, once subscribed, libraries will find cancellation effectively impossible.