Originally Posted by slm
Actually, the academic press as you are experiencing it IS the result of a consolidation (led by Springer Verlag and a few others) effectuated precisely to allow the remaining publishers to make more money by raising prices against very limited competition.
Sometimes, even paranoid delusions are accurate.
While fewer publishers is a plausible explanation for less competition (and higher prices), it still doesn't demonstrate that academic publishers are greedier
than other publishers. Do you think that if non-academic publishers were able to merge and make more money they would choose not to in the interests of the consumer?
I think that there are still too many players in the game for some sort of cartel arrangement to explain the high prices. For one thing it would be pretty easy for other publishers to start publishing academic texts if there were easy profits to be made. I suspect that some academic publishers merged more out of economic necessity
than some nefarious scheme to reduce competition.
I guess a relatively easy way to test the theory that academic publishers charge more just because they are greedy is to look at the prices of some of the popular books they are publishing. My prediction: because people choose to read popular non-fiction books rather than being forced to for their degree, they can be selective and competition will drive prices low.
It seems slightly odd, though, that the situation isn't changing faster. Most profs are well aware of what the publishers are up to and they are (mostly) firmly opposed to it. The technology exists to circumvent this racket. I'd have thought there's even plenty of economic incentive - surely it must be possible to undercut the cartel and still make serious profits?
Again I argue that the professors are the cause of the "racket" because they face no economic incentive to set cheaper books for their class texts. Usually lecturers receive review copies for free so I bet most lecturers don't even know the price of the books they are setting as required reading.