Thursday, February 25, 2010
According to a recent study by Professor Ross Davies of George Mason University School of Law, subscriptions rates are in decline, in some cases precipitously so. For example, the Harvard Law Review has seen its subscription numbers fall from 8,760 in 1979 to 2,029 in 2009. The Yale Law Journal has experienced a similar decline.
Professor Davies offers several explanations for the trend:
- Readers don't need to subscribe when they can get the same content online from Lexis, Westlaw, Heinonline and even open source sites.
- The core audience for law reviews has shrunk as their target readership has moved away from practitioners and towards academics.
- Specialized journals may be siphoning away readers - especially members of the bar - who might otherwise subscribe to a general interest law review.
- Law schools aren't purchasing multiples copies to distribute to faculty members when a single copy placed in the faculty lounge will do.
Professor Davies is quick to point out that declining paid subscriptions doesn't necessarily mean that readership is declining. "It's possible," Davies said, "that more people are reading reviews than before because so many are available online."
I am the scholarship dude.