Collection Sales: Good or Bad for Journals?

14 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2010

See all articles by Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong

University College London - Department of Economics


This article discusses the impact of collection sales (i.e., the bundling of several journals for sale by publishers to libraries) on journals. The advent of electronic journal distribution implies that bundling is an efficient sales strategy and can act to extend the reach of a journal. Current arrangements are discussed and shown to lead to tensions between commercial publishers and nonprofit journals. The article argues that nonprofit journals should not necessarily abandon collection sales programs. Rather, nonprofit journals may benefit from withdrawing from commercial publishers which distribute their own for-profit journals, and joining together to be distributed by less commercial publishers who set relatively low prices for their collections. (JEL D82, L31, L42, L82)

Suggested Citation

Armstrong, Mark, Collection Sales: Good or Bad for Journals?. Economic Inquiry, Vol. 48, Issue 1, pp. 163-176, January 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Mark Armstrong (Contact Author)

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

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London WC1E 6BT, WC1E 6BT
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