Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This book is best used as a reference book, rather than as a cover-to-cover read. Initially the foreword outlines various drivers for consortia creation – cost, budget constraints, explosion of number of available e-resources, etc.
The preface provides a useful 30,000 ft overview of what ' s to come in the book. The first chapter then provides a more detailed overview.
What, in particular, makes this book an effective reference tool is the very granular table of content at the front and index at the back. This allows you to go straight to the parts of value to you, and skip those you may find repetitive or too basic.
The book provides a fundamental introduction to consortia from which both complete novices and professionals with some consortia knowledge can benefit.
The author is clearly advocating for the consortia approach as a more effective way for academic libraries to license content. There are plenty of things to like about the book, as it contains a number of nuggets. The author, in particular, does a good job of:
Providing an overview of some of the main players, their strengths and raison d’être.
Pulling together historic material about consortia, using approximately 250 references. However, most of them are not current, so may be somewhat outdated.
Thoroughly outlining various types and consortia models, allowing the reader to form an opinion on which one would be the best fit for her/his purpose.
Outlining common pricing models and some considerations around usage rights and other contractual terms.
Providing useful links to the most common model licenses, description of core elements and explanation of key benefits and issues relating to model licenses.
Explaining the Doctrine of Fair Use.
Explaining National Consortia Licenses and consortia of consortia, followed by a country-by-country overview.
The author emphasizes the following four elements as Key Success Factors for a consortium:
excellent vendor negotiation skills;
enabling organization and governance;
effective policy framework and decision making; and
effective financial structure and adequate funding.
Though the book dedicates an entire chapter to negotiation, the advice is basic and conceptual, with a lack of illustrative examples. There is, for example, nothing about how to use emotions to your advantage in a negotiation situation – just a few words about how to manage the negative emotions of others.
The book outlines a lot of phases and aspects of the negotiation process, but is short on examples of coherent effective tried and tested frameworks, tactics and strategies. It very much has the feel of a series of “shopping lists,” mentioning one aspect/phase after the other.
My final gripe on the negotiation front relates to the brief “Request for proposal (RFP)” chapter which omits insight on how to streamline the process and increasing likelihood of getting accurate and actionable tender responses from vendors.
Having said all that, the book ' s limitations in the negotiation area is not necessarily a bad thing, as the book cannot be everything to everybody. However, you need to be aware that if you expect the book to turn you into an expert consortia negotiator, this book will not take you all the way.
Finally, some readers, who are used to American or British versions of English, may initially find the different Indian English syntax and grammar distracting. However, in my experience, you quickly get used to this.
Overall this is a useful reference book based on solid research – it will certainly get you up to speed on the basics.