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Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of medical and scientific literature, forms part of the Reed Elsevier group. Based in Amsterdam, the company has substantial operations in the UK, USA and elsewhere.
Elsevier took its name (in modernised form) from the historic Dutch publishing house of the same name (see House of Elzevir). The Elzevir family had operated as booksellers and publishers in the Netherlands. Its founder, Lodewijk Elzevir, (1542–1617) lived in Leiden and established the business in 1580.
As publishers of new work by Descartes, Galileo, and Grotius, they account for part of the reason for Bertrand Russell's comment that it "is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Holland in the seventeenth century, as the one country where there was freedom of speculation".
The modern company was founded in 1880. Leading products include journals such as The Lancet, Cell and Tetrahedron Letters, books such Gray's Anatomy and the ScienceDirect collection of electronic journals. Others include the Trends series, and the Current Opinion series.
In recent years the company has posted impressive profits but has come under fire for charging high subscription rates for its journal publications. A position not helped by publishing some very large journals (5000+ articles) with subscription prices as high as $14,000 - a price which far exceeds the typical subscription price of the average, generally much smaller journal, including those journals published by non-profit-making learned societies. As a result, Elsevier's has become a target of criticism, not just from advocates of a switch to the so-called open-access publication model, but also from universities whose library budgets have increasing problems coping with ever-rising journal prices.
- Company website
- History of the modern company (PDF)
- BBC News: Reed criticised for 'arms link'
- CAAT's page on Reed Elsevier
- Tom Stafford's blog on Elsevier
- Elsevier Librarians Home
- Elsevier Health Sciences Asia