It’s not all doom and gloom in academia: at least Elsevier are increasing their profits!

March 12, 2012

I was searching for some information — what proportion of Elsevier’s revenue is from journal subscriptions.  So far, I’ve been unsuccessful with that (can anyone help?), but along the way I stumbled across Elsevier’s Annual Reports and Financial Statements for 2011.

And it makes happy reading.  In these times when people are constantly moaning and whining and complaining about shrinking library budgets, it’s good to see that if you just pull your socks up and work hard, you can still do well for yourself!  Check it out:

As you can see, whereas in 2010 Elsevier were only able to generate an operating profit of £724M/£2026M = 35.7%, by sheer hard work and gumption they were able in 2011 to bring this up to £768M/£2058M = 37.3%.  This continues a fine trend of five successive years of increasing profits — not just increasing in absolute amount (although that’s true, too), but increasing as a proportion of all revenue.

So hats off to Elsevier, and to the valiant shareholders whose self-sacrifice allows us all to obtain more than adequate typesetting for our papers!  Pay no attention to the moaning Minnies — this is an all-American success story!

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18 Responses to “It’s not all doom and gloom in academia: at least Elsevier are increasing their profits!”

  1. Mike Taylor Says:

    Sadly not, Daniel. The total revenue and profit figures are a matter of public record (and I’ve mentioned them several times here and elsewhere), but the point has been made that some of my calculations are in error in that they made the assumption that all Elsevier’s revenue is from journals. I’m reading boring documents and emailing various people, trying to determine what the proportion is, but the closest I have come so far is that in the Science+Technology division it’s 78% — that’s one half of Elsevier, and I don’t yet know the corresponding figure for Health Sciences, the other half.

  2. Vertebrat Says:

    Isn’t it more of a nominally-Dutch-but-really-transnational success story?


  3. [...] It’s not all doom and gloom in academia: at least Elsevier are increasing their profits! (svpow.com) [...]

  4. Matt Wedel Says:

    Isn’t it more of a nominally-Dutch-but-really-transnational success story?

    It is just barely possible that Mike was being sarcastic there. :-)

    Sadly, it may yet become an American success story. There are probably organisms in Congress more craven than Issa and and Mahoney, and Elsevier will probably court them heavily for the next go-round.

    To be clear: none of this is remotely over. Indeed, academia at large is just barely waking up to the fact that there is a fight going on at all.

  5. Mike Taylor Says:

    Matt makes a very important point here. The great danger is that we’ll all go “the RWA was defeated!” and relax as though the war is won. That defeat is great news, so far as it goes; but all it means is that this particular attempt to annex yet more rights at the expense of researchers and our broader society didn’t succeed. It doesn’t mean they won’t come back and try again, and more important still it means that our “win” only leaves us where we started.

    Actual progress would mean getting the FRPAA passed — extending the NIH’s public-access policy to the US Government’s other large funding agencies. We should be putting at least as much energy into passing that as we did into opposing the RWA. Unfortunately, we bore quickly — even I get bored of writing about this stuff all the time and long to concentrate on some nice, juicy sauropods instead! — and I worry that, by banging on about the FRPAA. I’ll exhaust whatever welcome I may still have with my colleagues.

  6. Vertebrat Says:

    none of this is remotely over. Indeed, academia at large is just barely waking up to the fact that there is a fight going on at all.

    Reed-Elsevier’s P/E ratio, incidentally, is 16, which is normal — the market thinks the party is not over.

    Actual progress would mean getting the FRPAA passed — extending the NIH’s public-access policy to the US Government’s other large funding agencies.

    It’s probably easier to convince the agencies than to convince Congress. Since the NIH adopted the policy on its own, other agencies may be amenable to doing the same.


  7. [...] (14 March 2012) The 2011 figures are out: £768M on £2058M revenue – [...]

  8. dobermunk Says:

    http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/studium/0,1518,820819,00.html

    German mainstream media covers the boycott.


  9. [...] Today has seen the release of a Bernstein Research investment report by Claudio Aspesi, entitled Reed Elsevier: Is Elsevier Heading for a Political Train-Wreck?  It contains some stark warnings to potential investors: Elsevier’s original support for the RWA has triggered a rising level of support for open mandates, in turn escalating an obscure bill into both a public policy debate on dissemination of publicly-funded research as well as an unwelcome scrutiny into the finances of Elsevier. [...]


  10. [...] be that instead of climbing for a sixth consecutive year, Elsevier will not be able to improve on their 2011 profit margin of 37.3%.  Their profit margin might fall.  Just imagine the hardship if their profit margin was cut by a [...]


  11. [...] bankrupt publishers. To assess that claim, let’s take another look at our buddies Elsevier. Their 2011 profit, remember, is 37.3% of revenue. Suppose 10% of their libraries cancelled all subscriptions — let’s pessimistically [...]


  12. [...] Page 2: 34% of Reed Elsevier’s total 2010 revenue of £6,055M (i.e. £2058.7M) was from “Science and Medical”, which I take to mean Elsevier. This is in keeping with the total revenue number from Elsevier’s annual report. [...]


  13. [...] SV-POW! posts, Elsevier takes about $5000 for each article they put behind a paywall. Slice away the 40% profit and you get $3000 which not coincidentally is what they charge as an APC. They have old, slow, [...]


  14. […] Well, unless you’re a barrier-based legacy publisher, of course. Recall that the 2010/11 profit margins for the Big Four academic publishers came in at 32.4% for Informa, 33.9% for Springer, 36% for Elsevier and 42% for Wiley. And they’re still rising. […]


  15. […] if you’re committed to open access, you have to find an exorbitant $3300 for the APC. Since Elsevier’s profit margin is 37.3%, you know that $1230.90 of your APC is going to be sliced right off the top. I’ve heard it […]


  16. […] was already doing all it could to alienate the authors who freely donate their work to shore up the corporation’s obscene profits. The thousands of takedown notices sent to Academia.edu represent at best a grotesque PR mis-step, […]


  17. […] have it: confidentiality clauses exist because otherwise everybody would drive down prices. And we can’t have that, can […]


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