(Please be aware, this article was posted on April 1st)

Publishing giants Springer, Elsevier, and Wiley-Blackwell will merge, according to a leaked document that made its way into the Scholarly Kitchen late last night.

Continuing the trend of consolidation, the heads of the largest STM publishers will form a single, publicly-held company.  While details are still being worked out, the name of the publisher will be be Springer-Elsevier-Wiley-Blackwell, or SPEW for short.

Springer-Elsevier-Wiley-Blackwell (SPEW)


The merger, if confirmed by the U. S.  Department of Justice and the European Commission’s Competition Directorate, will represent the largest publisher merger in history, representing 63% of all scientific journals and consuming 99% of library budgets.

“Its a great day for shareholders!” remarked Perf Ormance, a Dutch adviser specializing in publisher stocks.  “American colleges and universities are heavily invested in these companies.  A merger is expected to return much-needed principal to university budgets.  Those invested in 401(k) retirement funds will also see their portfolios grow.”

Librarians are also celebrating.  “Gone are the days when librarians actually had to select journals,” remarked John Saylor, AUL for Collections at Cornell University.  “Now we’ll  just send one check to SPEW.  This will save our library hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff costs!”

Sensing urgency from the rumored merger, society and non-profit publishers are working quickly toward alternative business models.  HighWire’s John Sack already has a plan:

We’re forming a consortium to counter SPEW, called Stanford Library Universal Research Publishing (or SLURP).  We’ll syndicate all the open access papers from BioMed Central and from PubMed Central, and sell them to pharma companies.

Asked about the acronym, SLURP, Sack notes inspiration from the dogs who do much of the grunt work at HighWire Press.

It is rumored that SPEW will be headed by former owner of Pergamon Press, Robert Maxwell, since this would avoid internal company disputes which are common in three-way mergers.

Asked whether Maxwell is up to lead a major company during these turbulent times, Ormance responded that the CEO in companies of this size are largely symbolic.  “The board of directors will be running the show,” he remarked.

John Cox, a former publisher turned publishing consultant sees the benefit to readers as similar to a single-payer health care model:

At last a fully integrated scholarly publishing system can be developed, free at the point of use, like the UK’s National Health Service. Centralized planning of the major part of the literature, fully accountable to many of the stakeholders, is on the horizon.

Phil Davis

Phil Davis

Phil Davis is a publishing consultant specializing in the statistical analysis of citation, readership, publication and survey data. He has a Ph.D. in science communication from Cornell University (2010), extensive experience as a science librarian (1995-2006) and was trained as a life scientist. https://phil-davis.com/


32 Thoughts on "Mergers Create Uber Publisher"

This makes me want to HURL (Honorable publishers United Regarding the Literature)!

I can’t wait to pick up my SPEW fannypack at the next big publishers meeting! Love the logo…

And all I could think of was
Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare

Love the logo also….

I predict this will probably be picked up by some news outlets as fact. The subsequent denials from all parties will only confirm that it is indeed true. And so rumour will fester into fact…

It is all absolutely true, according to my publisher mole, Avril Premier 🙂

As a librarian I’m feeling a bit nervous though, because it might, just might, come to pass………….

phil – at it again! this is the, uh, most fun i’ve had reading news on any april fool’s day. i want a shirt with the logo! -tracey

Thanks Phil! You made my day! I was just taking a quick break from looking at whether the Wiley-Blackwell merger and some new CTA’s might significantly limit self-archiving of peer-reviewed versions of articles (postprints), and then I read about the SPEW merger! Needed a good laugh!

Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner said today in a news conference that the proposed SPEW conglomerate would be “too big to fail” and proposed an immediate taxpayer-funded bailout of $43 billion in guaranteed loans. He also floated the idea of infusing billions of dollars into library budgets “to get them spending again and get our information economy back on track.”

Asked about the appointment of the late Robert Maxwell to the SPEW CEO position, Geithner added, “Well, we figure a dead guy couldn’t do any worse a job than most of the live CEOs we’re dealing with these days, so more power to him.”

Publisher stocks soared at this announcement, and Maxwell’s estate immediately received a retention bonus of $23 million. Shortly thereafter a bill was introduced in the House to tax this bonus at 90%, after which stocks plummeted. SPEW was nationalized later in the day.

Maxwell will reportedly be exhumed and hauled before the Senate Banking Committee to explain himself, and then fired and given a severance package of $62 million.

Thank you for a great laugh. Among all of the $$ concerns, this helped to lighten my mood.

This merger sounded like “old news” to me — it’s not far off the truth. (Except for the part about “infusing billions of dollars into library budgets….”)

Robert Maxwell is an excellent choice to head SPEW, because he exhibits all the qualities (and more) recently seen in many CEOs of major automotive, mortgage , and mutual funds & corporations. Not only is he brain dead like all the others: He goes one step further: He’s completely dead!


Geitner did note that the libraries, with their extra billions, would need to find ways to park all the GM cars the government would soon own in the libraries’ stacks.

I would love to get a T-Shirt with that logo. I’ve been dealing with evil STM publishers for 15 years! Let’s hope Cafe Press picks it up and makes it available.

This is the best thing I’ve read in a long time – very creative minds at work here!

This is a really perfect message. From a Japanese, I learned how western people enjoy the day.

For sure they will merge!

And once all togheter and the system working properly, they will put all in FREE OA for everybody all over the world!

This is hilarious and the fact that the deceased Robert Maxwell is in charge of SPEW seems somehow appropriate but can we change the P to a C?

From the evil empire HQ: Our April Fools plot worked! By making our STM world domination plan a joke, they will never see the real thing coming! Moooowah Haaah Haaa Haaa!

I have been behind on my reader, so I just clicked the link to this today. Was freaking out till I clicked to read the comments then saw it was written April 1. Wish I read it back then cause I know exactly who I’d email it to.

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