I missed this odd bit of Panglossian praise for corporate consolidation, published in the Scholary Kitchen last fall:
One very good reason to favor consolidation is when it provides scale and financial stability to a specialized or niche provider. Such a specialized provider may find it a struggle, if not impossible, to sustain itself over time without such scale. […] Users also benefit when a consolidation serves to streamline and integrate workflows. This is such an obvious benefit to end-users that it is often surprising how long it takes for some consolidations to deliver on workflow benefits. […] Paradoxically, consolidation may serve to increase competition, not weaken it. This happens when a particular market segment already has a dominant player, but consolidation among other, smaller organizations in the same segment can put pressure on the leading incumbent. In the research publishing area any consolidation that does not include Elsevier potentially makes it possible to compete more effectively with Elsevier.
Wowzer. Both Roger Schonfeld and Joseph Esposito are better than this, whatever cavaets and qualifications they offer. They dismissively refer to “frequent, at times reflexive, customer opposition to acquisitions in these sectors, motivated by concerns about pricing.” That’s Newspeakish as a characterization: Yes, lots of folks that care about scholarly communication, librarians very much included, worry about monopoly pricing power. But we’re also worried about a host of other factors, including the monetization of scholars’ data, blocked access to reading (subscriptions) or authorship (APCs), and the fundamental misalignment of values between publicly traded for-profits and the pursuit of knowledge.
A benefit of consolidation is that …. it will help another conglomerate bloat up to rival the hyper-consolidated Elsevier?? That’s a depressing surrender of agency and possibility. Et tu, Roger?