Jun 032007

As widely reported on Friday, Reed Elsevier has indeed bowed to pressure and done a U-turn on its arms fairs. From the Guardian’s Saturday story:

Anti-arms trade campaigners and writers at Reed Elsevier’s scientific journals last night welcomed the publisher’s decision to stop organising defence shows.

Reed said yesterday it would sever its ties with arms fairs, bowing to pressure which included complaints from customers, shareholders and academics writing for its titles. The owner of trade and specialist publications such as Farmers Weekly and New Scientist had faced a long campaign over its involvement in five defence shows, including one in London. It now plans to pull out of the industry by the end of this year.

I’ve nothing to add beyond a small anecdote. I was talking to a representative from a scientific society on Friday which was (and is) in negotiations with Elsevier to place a significant contract. At the time neither of us had heard the news, and my contact said that they were under pressure from within the society membership not to place the contract with Elsevier because of this defence industry link. This kind of thinking only had to be reproduced at a few significant scientific societies for the potential lost business to be worth far more to Reed Elsevier than the profits of the arms fairs. I said I thought this would be a much more important factor than pressure from the Joseph Rowntree trust or famous authors and predicted that RE would make an announcement later in the year …

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