Writings on Journal Pricing 

Published Papers

"Free Labor for Costly Journals?"  (Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2001)

I argue that commercial publishers are charging excessive
prices for academic journals and suggest  ways that economists
can deal with this problem.

The JEP published two comments on my paper and also my response to these comments.  Here is the   Jstor pdf file of this discussion

One comment was from Joop Dirkmaat of Reed-Elsevier publishing company. Mr. Dirkmaat maintains that:

"Bergstrom's essay is based on an outdated print-based view
of the publishing industry,"  and doesn't take account of the high
costs of dual publication, electronic and paper.

A second comment was from Professor Robert Kohn of Southern Illinois University.

Professor Kohn urges that libraries should  cancel subscriptions to overpriced journals and use interlibrary loan.  He suggests that commercial journals deserve some credit for founding new journals when the professional societies failed to do so.
My response
I show that the pattern of pricing that we saw with paper journals
has reemerged with electronic site licenses.   Commercial publishers continue to charge prices far above average cost and far above the prices charged by the no profits.  Electronic site licenses for universities are priced at about 6 times as much per page for the 10 most-cited commercial journals (all of which are now owned by Elsevier) as for the 10 most-cited non-profit journals.
A paper on the theory of electronic journals and institutional site licenses

The Costs and Benefits of Library Site Licenses to Academic Journals
(with Carl Bergstrom, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 20, 2004)

As electronic access to journals replaces paper editions, the role of a university library is no longer that of storehouse and reading room, but rather that of gatekeeper and revenue collector.  Does this role benefit the academic community?We argue that when the publisher is a profit maximizer, the answer is No.  But for non-profit journals, the answer is Yes.
Invited comment for Nature Forum Focus on Open Access Publishing 

Can `Author Pays' journals compete with `Reader Pays' 

A paper on Ecology Journals 

The Economics of Ecology Journals
(with Carl Bergstrom,  Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution,  October 2006, vol 4, no. 9, pp 488-495)

A study of self-archiving practices

How often do Economists Self-Archive?

Other Materials

          Powerpoint slides from a lecture given at the Second Nordic Conference on                     
        Scholarly Communication in Lund, Sweden
   The Peculiar Market for Academic Journals