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TypePrivate company
SloganBuilding Insights. Breaking Boundaries.

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.

Modern company

The modern company was founded in 1880. Leading products include journals such as The Lancet, Cell and Tetrahedron Letters, books such as Gray's Anatomy, and the ScienceDirect collection of electronic journals. Others include the Trends series, and the Current Opinion series.

Elsevier company

Elsevier may be the world’s largest provider of science and health information. It publishes about 250'000 articles per year in 2000 journals[1]. Its archives contain 7 million past publications. Total yearly downloads amount to 240 million.[2]

Economic indicators

Elsevier is part of the Reed Elsevier group. In terms of revenue, it accounts for 28% of the total (₤1.5b of 5.4 billions in 2006). In terms of operating profits, it represents a much bigger fraction of 44% (₤395 of 880 millions)[3]. Adjusted operating profits have risen by 10% between 2005 and 2006.[4]

Reed Elsevier Annual Report 2006
Turnover € 7'935 million (+5% from '05)
Pre-tax profit € 1'060 million (+3% from '05)
Elsevier Annual Report 2006
Turnover € 2'236 million (+6.6% from '05)
Pre-tax profit € 581 million (+0.5% from '05)
see Elsevier reports[5]; turnover = revenue; profits not adjusted

Company figures

7,000 journal editors, 70,000 editorial board members and 200,000 reviewers are working for Elsevier.[1] Each year, the company publishes the original work of more than 500,000 authors in 2,000 journals, 17,000 books, 18 new journals and 1,900 new books.[1]

It is headed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Erik Engstrom.[6]

With its headquarters based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Elsevier employs more than 7,000 people in over 70 offices across 24 countries.[1]

Elsevier's operating divisions

Elsevier has two distinct operating divisions: Science & Technology and Health Sciences. Products and services of both include electronic and print versions of journals, textbooks and reference works and cover the health, life, physical and social sciences.

Science & Technology

Herman van Campenhout is the CEO.

The target markets are academic and government research institutions, corporate research labs, booksellers, librarians, scientific researchers, authors, and editors.

Flagship products & services include: ScienceDirect, Scopus, Scirus, EMBASE, Engineering Village, Compendex, Cell.

There are the following subsidiary imprints, many of them previously independent publishing companies: Academic Press, Architectural Press, Butterworth-Heinemann, CMP, Digital Press, Elsevier, Focal Press, Gulf Professional Publishing, Morgan Kaufmann, Newnes, Pergamon, Pergamon Flexible Learning, Syngress Publishing.

Health Sciences

Brian Nairn is the CEO.

The target market is physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, medical and nursing students and schools, medical researchers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and research establishments. Publishing in 12 languages including English, German, French Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Japanese and Chinese.

Flagship publications include: The 'Consult' series (FirstCONSULT, PathCONSULT, NursingCONSULT, MDConsult, StudentCONSULT), Virtual Clinical Excursions, and major reference works such as Gray's Anatomy, Nelson' Pediatrics, Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy, and online versions of many journals[7] including The Lancet, FEBS Letters, etc.

There are the following subsidiary imprints, previously independent publishing companies: Saunders, Mosby, Churchill Livingstone, Butterworth-Heinemann, Hanley & Belfus, Bailliere-Tindall, Urban & Fischer, Masson.


In recent years the subscription rates charged by the company for its journals have been criticised; some very large journals (those with more than 5000 articles) charge subscription prices as high as $14,000, far above average. The company has been criticised not just by advocates of a switch to the so-called open-access publication model, but also by universities whose library budgets make it difficult for them to afford current journal prices. For example, a resolution by Stanford University's senate singled out Elsevier as an example of a publisher of journals which might be "disproportionately expensive compared to their educational and research value" and which librarians should consider dropping, and encouraged its faculty "not to contribute articles or editorial or review efforts to publishers and journals that engage in exploitive or exorbitant pricing".[8] Similar guidelines and criticism of Elsevier's pricing policies have been passed by the University of California, Harvard University and Duke University.[9]

Several entire editorial boards left Elsevier in protest

In November 1999 the complete Editorial Board of the Journal of Logic Programming (50 persons in total) collectively resigned after 16 months of unsuccessful negotiations with Elsevier Press about the price of library subscriptions. This editorial board created a new journal (Theory and Practice of Logic Programming) with a lower priced publisher, and on its side Elsevier continued the publication of the journal with a completely different editorial board and a slightly different name (The Journal of Logic and Algebraic Programming).

At the end of 2003, the entire editorial board of the prestigious Journal of Algorithms resigned to start Transactions on Algorithms with a different, lower priced publisher.[10][11]

The same happened in 2005 to the International Journal of Solids and Structures whose editors resigned to start the Journal of Mechanics of Materials and Structures. However, a new editorial board was quickly established and the journal continues in unaltered form.

On August 10, 2006, the entire editorial board of the distinguished mathematical journal Topology handed in their resignation, again because of stalled negotiations with Elsevier to lower the subscription price.[12] This board has now launched the new Journal of Topology at a far lower price, under the auspices of the London Mathematical Society.[13]

The French École Normale Supérieure has stopped having Elsevier publish the prestigious journal Annales Scientifiques de l'École Normale Supérieure[14] (as of 2008[15]).

Petition against Elsevier's parent organisation's involvement in weapon shows

An editorial in the medical journal The Lancet in September 2005 sharply criticized the journal's owner and publisher, Reed Elsevier, for its participation in the international arms trade.[16] Specifically, one of Elsevier's subsidiaries organized the Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition(DSEi), a large arms fair in the U.K. The authors, appealing to the Hippocratic oath called for the publisher to divest itself of all business interests that threaten human, and especially civilian, health and well-being.[17]

In the March 2007 issue of the The Lancet, leading medical centers including the UK Royal College of Physicians urged Reed Elsevier to sever weapons ties. Doctors spoke out against Reed's role in the involvement of the organizing of exhibitions for the arms trade.[18] Reed Elsevier’s chief executive responded in June 2007 with a written statement[19], welcomed by authors of the petition,[20] announcing that it would sell the part of the company which handled military trade shows. Elsevier failed to sell off its exhibitions arm by the end of 2007[21][22] .


Imprints are brand names in publishing. Elsevier uses its imprints to market to different consumer segments. Many of them have previously been the company names of publishers that were purchased by Reed Elsevier.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Elsevier at a glance
  2. http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/intro.cws_home/glance_1 (accessed 19 October 2007)
  3. Reed Elsevier | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2006
  4. Reed Elsevier | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2006
  5. Reed Elsevier | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2006
  6. Elsevier
  7. Elsevier
  8. Faculty Senate minutes February 19 meeting Stanford Report, Feb. 25, 2004
  9. "Fac Sen addresses costly journals". The Stanford Daily. 2004-02-20.
  10. Donald Knuth (2003-10-25). "Letter to the editorial board of the Journal of Algorithms" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  11. Changes at the Journal of Algorithms
  12. "Resignation letter from the editors of Topology" (PDF). 2006-08-10. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  13. Journal of Topology (pub. London Mathematical Society)
  14. John Baez: What We Can Do About Science Journals August 13, 2007
  15. "Publisher's description of Annales Scientifiques de l'École Normale Supérieure". Elsevier. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  16. "Biting Its Owner's Hand". New York Times. 2005-09-05.
  17. Feder, Gene; et al. (2005). "Reed Elsevier and the international arms trade". The Lancet. 366: 889. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67306-0. More than one of |pages= and |page= specified (help)
  18. Bob Grant. "Scientists step up Elsevier protest". The-Scientist.com.
  19. "Reed Elsevier to exit the defence exhibitions sector". Reed Elsevier (press release). 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  20. "Journal-Publishing Giant Will Halt Lucrative Business in Weapons Bazaars". The Chronicle of Higher Education (News Blog). 2007-06-05. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  21. "Reed fails to sell arms fairs". The Times Online. 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  22. James Ashton (2008-02-10). "Clarion's £125m event". The Times Online. Retrieved 2008-02-18.

External links

web sites pertaining to the company

non-Elsevier web sites

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