Thank you for the messages calling attention to relevant notices in the press and asking questions. We pass these on to all our subscribers. For example, Brad Carrington, Head of Cataloging, University of Kentucky Libraries (and later Deana Astle) alerted me to an item from Oregon State University in the "Marginalia" column in the November 8 CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION. It concerns the inscription on a cake supplied to a library party celebrating the contributions authors made to scholarship during the year. It's on page A2; you'll love it!
Anne Kearney, History Program, Jefferson Community College, Louisville Ky, sent this query: "I attended a workshop today on how to get things published. I learned [that] foreign publishers often pay for journal articles, and the ones that pay best are the Germans. Has this ever come up as a reason for their higher costs?" Not that I know of; how about it, folks?
Ann Okerson, Jerry Alper, Inc., raises the question of personal copies of journals. "Personal members' copies of the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY are carrying in large letters on the cover the statement:
(i.e., 5 years). This bears some investigating and has implications for personal copies being given to branch libraries, departmental libraries, etc. Also, I suppose, for backfile vendors who buy private libraries for resale to academic ones."
Have you seen "Information on Information," Elsevier Science Publishers' new series of two-page ads in the library press? The first one, in LIBRARY JOURNAL, November 1, explains the objective: "In the coming months we will present a series of brief features on scientific information sources and the publishing processes underlying them. Elsevier Science Publishers frequently receives inquiries from the library community about various procedures and traditions in scientific publishing, and in this series we want to expand on some of the more frequently raised topics and share information with you." This first one presents a useful chart defining various types of journals in terms of peer review, speed of publication, society affiliations, page charges, advertising sales, and more.
The October issue of Sage's COMMUNICATION RESEARCH is a special issue entitled "Bibliometric Methods for the Study of Scholarly Communication," edited by Christine L. Borgman and William Paisley. Borgman's introduction defines the scope of the issue: "In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest both in scholarly communication as a research area and in the application of bibliometrics as a research method. This special issue attempts to review current research that applies bibliometric techniques to research questions in scholarly communication." Of particular interest is the article by Terrence A. Brooks,"Core Journals of the Rapidly Changing Research Front of 'Superconductivity.'"
Thanks to Barbara von Wahlde for calling our attention to Sharon Rogers (George Washington University) and Charlene Hurt's (George Mason University) "How Scholarly Communication Should Work in the 21st Century," on the back page (A56) of the October 18, CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION. She says, "It is a marvelous article and should be distributed and promoted far and wide....It could serve as a wonderful discussion/debate article and generate comments for several numbers [of the newsletter]. Rogers and Hurt (has a familiar ring...) open with this sentence: "Scholarly journals are obsolete as the primary vehicle for scholarly communication." They advocate using the "$500-million spent annually on journal subscriptions" to finance the Scholarly Communication System, an electronic network of articles. The authors describe the proposed system in detail and list the benefits to institutions of higher education. The greatest advantage they see is that "universities would regain control over decisions made about the largest item in their budgets: faculty salaries." We would be happy to receive your responses to the article and consider passing them on in future newsletters.
13.2 THE CHARLESTON CONFERENCE: ISSUES IN BOOK AND
Janet L. Flowers, Head, Acquisitions Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BITNET: JFLOWER@UNC.BITNET.
The Charleston Conference (November 9-11) was a lively meeting with numerous speakers, a large audience, and a wide range of topics. This report will focus on the dialogue regarding serials prices. In fact, the subject almost dominated the meeting. As a followup to last year's conference, several topics were discussed in more depth this year.
One session offered an opportunity for publishers to respond to the ARL "Study of Serials Pricing" published in May. Duane Webster, Executive Director of the Association of Research Libraries, set the stage by explaining the background of the study and the need for librarians to be more than internal managers. He stressed that librarians must anticipate and attempt to shape the external environment, particularly when it is creating difficulties such as those caused by spiraling serials costs. This study attempted to provide an increased understanding of the economics of publishing.
While recognizing and supporting the need for publishers to make a profit and to remain a vital part of the scholarly process, Webster pointed to the need for a library presence that will be persistent, informed, and influential. He announced the formation of a new office within ARL, the Office of Scientific and Academic Publishing (OSAP). This office is charged with developing a better understanding of the dynamics of scientific and scholarly publishing by conducting research and exchanging information and with moderating the increase in the rise of serials prices by encouraging competition.
Responding from the publisher's perspective, Jolanda von Hagen, President and CEO of Springer Verlag New York, told the audience that she was not there to tell what her company's profit was nor to explain it away. She thought that perhaps librarians were confusing profit (which, in her opinion, is necessary capital) with profiteering (which is abuse of the customer).
Turning to the ARL report, she expressed concern over the fact that the study overlooked a major expense for publishers, that of in-house expenses. She then explained, using examples of Springer journals, how the profitability of journals varies from one to another. In fact, she noted that one half of the Springer journals do not make a profit and must be subsidized by other journals.
Mrs. von Hagen reminded everyone that publishers and librarians are experts in information transfer and called for further research using the expertise of both sides.
Michael Keller, Head of Collection Development at Yale, reviewed the positive developments in reaction to the serials crisis. These include the formation of NASIG, this newsletter, the ARL report, and the OSAP within ARL. He considers the fact that ARL directors have become directly involved in this issue a significant breakthrough which may point us in new directions.
Barbara Meyers, President of Meyers Consulting Services, noted several problems with the ARL study. To her, the data collection appeared shaky. Also, one industry was looking at another industry's internal matters without a full understanding of how the other profession operates. She was concerned that the report could create a chasm between commercial and non-commercial publishers. Barbara did not want to see that happen, so she advised the audience to remember that we are all part of a family and should seek a solution that would ensure mutual gain.
In the questions section of this session, one participant made a very pertinent observation. The serials pricing problems are not a local or national matter. They are really of international concern and librarians should think of them in that context.
Katina, in her usual charming way, presented the speakers with gifts (unwanted gift material from her library). The two most appropriate ones were OUT ON A LIMB for Duane Webster and THE PERILS OF PROSPERITY for Mrs. von Hagen! This session could have been expanded to a full day. Perhaps it will be at another meeting.
Another session concerned serials issues other than pricing, namely peer review and copyright. Ted Colton, of the Boston University School of Public Health and editor of STATISTICS IN MEDICINE, described the peer review process. His comments provided a good overview of how the process works and what the referees do. He noted issues such as fraud which often cannot be detected by the peer review process and blind reviewing which seeks to ensure a more candid response from the reviewer. Nonetheless, he sees the peer review process as essential for ensuring the quality of scientific and scholarly publications.
William Hannay, a lawyer with Schiff Hardin and Waite in Chicago, gave a lively talk about antitrust issues in publishing. He reviewed the increasing trend toward mergers and acquisitions in the publishing world and noted the resulting consolidation of communications corporations. He then posed the question as to whether the antitrust laws could be of assistance to those concerned over this media globalization. To answer his question, he cited various anti-trust laws and statutes, such as the Clayton Act, and concluded that, given the courts' current casual approach to competition, there is not much hope that this trend can be reversed.
He then looked specifically at the issues related to pricing. He reviewed the recent case where the FTC charged six major book publishers with discriminating against independent bookstores by offering them lower discounts than those given to major bookstore chains. He could not predict the effect the litigation might have on publishing business, but it is certainly an area to be watched.
Finally, he addressed the issue of joint negotiations of libraries with vendors. One approach which has been suggested for dealing with the serials crisis is for libraries to join together and cooperate to purchase serials to be shared rather than each library holding all the titles. In Mr. Hannay's opinion, it is not clear whether a library boycott is lawful. As to whether libraries, by being viewed as consumers rather than competitors, would change the application of the law, his answer was a "definite maybe." His final advice to librarians was that they may intervene to influence changes in the publishing world to the extent that joint action by libraries does not affect competition -- whatever that means. (This talk was a good reminder of why we need legal counsel in these matters!)
John Merriman, Director of Blackwell's Periodicals Division, spoke on serials pricing, particularly the Blackwell's Index, and called attention to an article he has written in a recent issue of NATURE. Merriman was followed by Peter Young of Faxon, who discussed price studies in general, noting that they are a tool, an indicator, and still an art as well as a science.
Young reviewed some of the factors which must be considered when comparing serials pricing. His list follows: currency exchange rates, added volumes, pricing structures, measurement scales, subject, commercial versus society publication, weighted versus average price, title sampling, and price index. Finally, he noted that comparisons should take the differences in journal types into consideration. Among the types he listed are the following: professional, review, methods, letters, proceedings, newsletters, abstracts, and academic research. Young concluded that better and more exact tools are needed. We must develop new and more comprehensive price study models to help us with our selection/deselection decisions.
The Charleston Conference can be added to the list of ways librarians cope with the serials crisis. It is a forum for the continuing education of all those involved in the scholarly communication process.
13.3 HAMAKER'S HAYMAKERS
Chuck Hamaker, Louisiana State University, BITNET: NOTCAH@LSUVM.
The November 10 issue of SCIENCE includes a lengthy editorial by Richard C. Atkinson, Chancellor of the University of California San Diego, concerning the Library of Congress Licensing Agreement and new National Library of Medicine fees. That this issue is addressed in this forum means that library issues are no longer back room problems, but are regularly reaching a national and international audience. Even more interesting to the many libraries concerned about issues in STM literature is an article by Bernard D. Davis, a professor emeritus of the Harvard Medical School. "Government and Quality in Science" mentions a recent report by the Institute of Medicine describing "sloppy" practices including "hasty or fragmented publication, honorary authorship, rewards for volume rather than for quality of publication, and inadequate supervision of trainees. It concluded, very reasonably, that these practices are more prevalent and cause more harm to science than outright fraud." (SCIENCE, vol. 246 (November 10, 1989): 736) Old hat to librarians, perhaps, but news to the scientific community. AMEN.
13.4 "THE INTERNATIONAL PSP MARKET: AN UPDATE," BY
Deana Astle, Clemson University, BITNET: DLAST@CLEMSON.
Kobrak's article appears in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, November 10, 1989, pp. 44-45. This article reports on the international professional and scholarly publishing market and comments on the current health of publishers who do most if not all of their output in English. Kobrak comments that it is now uneconomical to publish in any other language. He then states what we all know, "Traditional scientific disciplines have spawned whole new areas of inquiry, while research productivity has increased dramatically with the aid of computers. The result is an increase in the number of researchers seeking to communicate their findings through reputable journals. Most periodicals have had to add more pages per issue, more issues per volume and more volumes per year in order to cope. They also spin off new, more narrowly targeted journals -- often resulting, ironically, in a reduction in subscriptions for their more generalized progenitors."
Kobrak comments that library budgets have stagnated at the same time research funding has increased, thus libraries cannot order new journals the way they once did. He states: "Many publishers agree with Springer-Verlag chairman Dr. Heinz Goetze that the greatest problem facing PSP publishers around the world is inadequate library funding." !!!!!!
Kobrak cites interesting figures: Springer Verlag, which has "80% of its $200 million plus annual output in English," has increased the journals share of its business to 50 percent from the 30 percent of ten years ago. Elsevier gets 80 percent of its $250 million PSP sales from journals. Seventy-four IEEE journals account for 80 percent of sales, half of which come from outside North America.
Karen Hunter of Elsevier is quoted as saying that fewer new journals are started each year, but at Elsevier most of these five or six become successful. "We are using more quality control and selectivity." But interestingly enough (Duane Webster of ARL take note), Springer's Goetze is quoted as saying that too many rejection slips to potential contributors might bring other dangers. "If we don't publish perfectly good research results, governments may step in and do it for us."
Kobrak states that some publishers are looking at markets other than libraries to increase their sales. Hunter is quoted as saying, "Academic institutions are staff-intensive and material-restrictive, while industry tries to keep staff low and invest more in materials." (This is reminiscent of the suggestion heard at the College of Charleston Acquisitions Conference, where libraries were counselled to reduce their staffs so they could buy more titles.)
As a comment on the publishing scene from the publisher's perspective, this article makes interesting reading.
13.5 WHEN THE EARTH MOVED ... PART 2
Vicky Reich, Stanford University, BITNET: CN.VAR@STANFORD.
As structural engineers have determined that the structural skeleton of Green West was unharmed during the quake, work has begun in order to make the first floor safe for reoccupation by the staff of Technical Services and the Jonsson Library of Government Documents. I hope that by the time this goes to press some of the displaced Tech Services staff will have reoccupied parts of the first floor. However, although work is moving along quickly, because of plaster disturbance during the work, a good deal of clean-up will be required and may slow reoccupation. In any case, the Serials Department will be the first to reoccupy in order to free-up Access Services' third floor sorting room in Green East (the Serials Department's Records and Acquisitions sections are housed there temporarily).
Not all areas of the first floor and none of the areas above the first floor will be safe for reoccupation. Therefore, some technical service functions/operations will need to be relocated. The Acquisitions Department's approval plan and mail opening functions, as well as the Catalog Department's Bibliographic Center will be relocated in order to provide workspace for retrospective conversion (recon) operations. (In the case of the Bibliographic Center, its materials will be packed up and portions redistributed; its authority files will be relocated to the main card catalog area in Green East.) Another operation which will require long-term relocation is the Preservation Department, including the bindery shipment function within its Binding and Finishing Division. The relocation of other Binding and Finishing functions, as well as Gifts and Exchange functions, has also not yet been decided.
13.6 ARL OFFICE OF SCIENTIFIC AND ACADEMIC PUBLISHING
Association of Research Libraries staff, 1527 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036, (202) 462-7849.
During the period of 1984-87, serials prices increased rapidly, seemingly as a result of a number of actors, including: differential pricing, decline of the U.S. dollar in the international market, increased profit taking, and continued proliferation of information publication. This phenomenon of serial price increases is now recognized as a cyclical process with patterns of dramatic increases followed by library outrage that have occurred with regularity since the 1920s and prior to the 1980s, most recently in 1975-77. This time, ARL members find the acquisition pressure particularly troublesome due to the competing investments needed to automate library operations, introduce electronic information services, and address the preservation problem.
Concerned members drew the Association's attention to these concerns in a series of "hot topic" discussion sessions sponsored by the Committee on Collection Development as part of ARL membership meetings since 1986. Concurrently, the ARL Statistics Committee began collecting more precise data on serials acquisitions that demonstrated graphically the seriousness of the serials prices problem and its impact on library budgets.
The ARL Committee on Collection Development began exploring alternative responses to the serial pricing problem, including securing legal advice, investigating member responses to the crisis, and looking at other actions being taken to address the problem. It became apparent that the current crisis differs somewhat from earlier cycles due to the growing prominence of foreign commercial publishers and the recent proliferation of titles and volumes of published research. The Committee's discussions led to a proposal to secure objective outside analyses of price and cost patterns for targeted publishers, to assess the causes of the current crisis, and to develop short- and long-term responses to the crisis that might moderate price increases in the future.
This proposal was approved by the ARL Board of Directors at its February 1988 meeting and subsequently, the membership voted to assess themselves $200 per institution to fund the investigations. Economic Consulting Services and Ann Okerson were retained by ARL staff to carry out the work. The Council on Library Resources provided an additional $15,000 to complete data gathering, which proved more costly than originally expected. The final reports were presented to the Board of Directors, the Committee on Collection Development, and the membership at the May 1989 Membership Meeting and were endorsed by all groups. Resolutions to implement the recommended actions were passed at the May meeting.
2. Current Activities - June/October 1989
The reports were published and distributed widely in June (1,000 reports were printed, 200 were distributed without charge, and 266 have been sold as of October 12, 1989). Staff and member efforts to publicize the report have drawn considerable press attention to the serials prices issues, including coverage in: THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, AMERICAN LIBRARIES, LIBRARY JOURNAL, SCIENCE, ACADEME, and THE SCIENTIST. Publicity efforts to bring these issues to the attention of a broader constituency are ongoing.
Building alliances with other higher education groups continues to be a major focus. Staff have met with representatives of AAAS, AAU, NHA, ACLS, SSP, and IEEE to explore possible joint efforts on these problems. In addition, recent contacts with EDUCOM and SWIG (a network group) have dealt with the serials prices issue. Scientific and scholarly groups are uniformly supportive of this initiative and concerned about the growing expense and proliferation of STM information.
At ALA in Dallas, considerable attention was directed toward the reports. Two ACRL meetings featured presentations on the reports, and various other sessions referenced and discussed them. One particularly notable discussion was a meeting with the RTSD Blue Ribbon Panel on Serials. Support for the report evident at the Dallas meeting demonstrates broad based support from the profession for the ARL initiative.
ARL's role as spokesperson for the profession on the serials problem is further confirmed by a recently-released draft report of the RTSD Blue Ribbon Panel. The draft recommendations support both the conclusions of the ARL studies and the establishment of the Office of Scientific and Academic Publishing.
Reaction from publishers has been predictable: discrediting the findings, denying excessive profits, and expressing a desire to talk about collaboration. The reports were distributed to the four firms targeted in the study and the list of sampled journals were [sic] offered to them. ARL staff met with representatives from Springer/Verlag and Elsevier in June. In addition, Springer has invited the Executive Director to serve as a panelist during a November conference on serials.
The Gordon and Breach lawsuits against Henry Barschall, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, are cause for concern. Discussions were held at IFLA with representatives of ALA and German and Swiss libraries to share information regarding the law suits, filed in Germany and Switzerland. It was agreed that no concerted action would be taken at this point, but that the groups represented would continue to gather and share information. In addition to the suit against Professor Barschall, Gordon and Breach has filed suit in Philadelphia against the British publisher, Taylor and Francis, as well as the editor of its journal, LIQUID CRYSTALS, first published in 1986. The suit contends, among other points, that the G & B journal, MOLECULAR CRYSTALS AND LIQUID CRYSTALS (MCLC), published since 1966, is generally known by the title, Liquid Crystals, and that the editor of LIQUID CRYSTALS had proprietary information as a result of previously serving on the Editorial Advisory Board of MCLC. ARL staff have been in touch with the Taylor and Francis lawyers and are monitoring the situation.
The reports were distributed to Congressional committee staff with relevant interests, including: the House Committee on Education and Labor, Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education; the House Postsecondary Education Committee; the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Science, Research, and Technology; the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; as well as OTA and CRS/LC.
3. Description of Office
At their July 25, 1989 meeting, the ARL Board of Directors agreed to establish a permanent addition to the ARL framework of capabilities. The addition, to be called the ARL Office for Scientific and Academic Publishing, would be directed toward understanding and influencing the forces affecting the production, dissemination, and use of scientific and scholarly information.
The objectives of this new office include:
- to develop a better understanding of the dynamics of scientific and scholarly publishing by conducting research and exchanging information on current practices and problems;
- to moderate the rate of increase of serial prices and information in all formats by encouraging competition, providing information on prices and costs, publicizing publishers' practices, and encouraging the movement of publishing to non-profit organizations;
- to provide consumer advocacy information to users and librarians in order to address issues related to research library collection management and use;
- to improve the quality of scientific and scholarly publications by providing information on the use of information, assessing the relative quality of publications available, and encouraging quality control practices in the publishing industry;
- to work with governmental agencies in shaping the evolving nature of scientific communications; and
- to communicate research library positions on issues related to the production, dissemination, and use of scholarly and scientific information.
It is expected that the approved level of funding will allow a staged approach to building this new capability. At the outset, the office will focus on scientific, technical, and medical publications. Later, humanistic, historical, and social sciences publications will be included. The activities of the office will build on work ongoing in the profession and accomplished in the recent ARL serials prices project. The office, in the first few years, will serve as a clearinghouse for exchange of information and the mobilization of action among the interested parties. Initially, a consumer advocacy and user education role will be emphasized.
Prospective projects and potential activities include:
- work with scientific and scholarly societies to design and operate seminars on factors contributing to the information crisis and respective roles for addressing issues;
- promote changes in the management of intellectual property rights;
- reduce reliance on publication records as criteria for federal grants;
- contribute to the development of the national network as vehicle for the exchange of research results;
- encourage experimentation in the area of electronic journals;
- work with scholars and faculty to establish a set of common evaluation standards for all scholarly publications to integrate a journal's price with measurements of value based upon the journal's contribution to the field;
- establish buying groups of libraries to exercise purchasing power through the negotiation of quantity discounts;
- promote wider participation in the publishing process through more widespread use of competitive bidding for publishing contracts by professional associations, university presses and new entrants; and
- conduct a feasibility study for a new "merchant" publishing house dedicated to the service of no-frills journal publishing.
This listing of activities is meant to illustrate the range of possibilities that will be evaluated once the office is established and staff are recruited.
4. Potential Impact
This new capability addresses the need for more and better information by member libraries on the serials crisis. As a consumer advocate, ARL would provide research libraries, their users, and funders with better information to manage acquisitions and to plan for the future. It is reasonable to anticipate that this option would attract media attention, encourage governmental attention, and exert ongoing pressure on publishers.
The criteria for judging success of this option would be:
- ARL libraries have current, frequently updated information useful in their budgeting activities and faculty contacts.
- ARL libraries are better prepared to assist faculty, and university administrators are better informed on the nature of the serials problem and its impact on library operations.
While this capability addresses the need to establish a consumer advocacy and education presence, it also emphasizes building working alliances with targeted groups to influence national information policy development over the longer term. The criteria for judging success of these aspects of the capability include results such as:
- serial prices are contained or ameliorated;
- some scholarly publishing is transferred from the commercial to the not-for-profit sector, or commercial prices more closely approximate not-for-profit prices; and
- there is a visible increase in discussions by university administrators and faculty about publications as part of academic review and rewards.
In the long run, the office will likely be evaluated in terms of whether librarians, with other members of the scholarly community, are able to influence future developments in scientific and scholarly communication. This requires building an initial capability that is useful to members and connects well with scientific and scholarly organizations.
13.7 AMERICAN MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY COST COMPARISON
Dana Sally, Math Physics Librarian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BITNET: UNCDSA@UNC.
The AMS has published in the November 1989 issue of NOTICES OF THE AMERICAN MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY (39:9, 1193-98) its third cost comparison study of mathematical research journals. Previous such studies were conducted in 1984 and 1986, and this current study is expanded to show comparisons between these two subscription years and 1988. Basically, the study includes those journals published in the United States that are covered in their entirity in MATHEMATICAL REVIEWS, the major abstracting journal published by the AMS. In all, comparative information on 98 titles is presented. For the sake of presentation, the journals are grouped into three categories: primary typeset journals (62); primary author-prepared journals (11); and translation journals (25). For each title the following types of data are listed for each of the subscription years 1984, 1986, and 1988: publisher, list price in $US; number of pages; cost in cents per 1000 characters; average number of characters per page; circulation (i.e., number of subscriptions); page charges; back volume availability; whether offprints are given; outside sources of support; and institutional discounts. The study provides valuable information on those titles that are included -- information that the AMS thought "would benefit the mathematical community, in particular department chairmen and librarians." The AMS does not, of course, interpret the data, "in order that readers might draw their own conclusions." They also allude to a companion survey, a study by the European Mathematics Council, of prices of European journals, currently in preparation.
13.8 TEST PARTICIPANTS NEEDED FOR SERIALS
Jane Treadwell, Emory University, BITNET: LIBJBT@EMUVM1.
A subcommittee of the AAP/ALCTS Joint Committee was formed at the 1988 ALA Midwinter meeting to develop a survey of the serials marketplace to be sent to librarians, publishers, and vendors. After nearly two years, the Subcommittee on Serials Marketing is nearing completion of the survey and would like to send out a test survey in late January. Separate questionnaires will go to libraries, publishers, and vendors, with questions addressing practices and perceptions relating to the other groups. Pricing will be one of the issues addressed by the survey, although the survey is intended to be broad in scope. In the case of the library questionnaire, there will be questions relating to collection development, automation, and serials control practices. The logical people within a library to respond to the survey probably would be the chief collection development officer and the serials librarian.
From the test participants, the committee hopes to receive questions and comments to help it refine the survey instrument. Approximately twenty to thirty test participants are needed. If you or someone else at your institution would like to participate in the library test survey, please contact Jane Treadwell by January 4, 1990, at: Collection Management Division, Emory University General Libraries, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta GA 30322; phone (404) 727-6881; or BITNET: LIBJBT@EMUVM1.
13.9 AN EXPERIMENT IN LOWER JOURNAL PRICES
Dr. Robert K. Peet, Department of Biology CB# 3280, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NC 27599-3280; BITNET: URTICA@UNC.
Libraries are not the only institutions that feel the consequences of publishers' setting excessively high prices for serials. Professional organizations that publish serials want them to be widely distributed and available to as many readers as possible. If the price of a journal is too high, circulation will be held low and the journal cannot continue to grow in quality or prestige. This is the situation that was faced recently by the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS).
In 1947, IAVS started the journal VEGETATIO through a gentlemen's agreement with Dr. W. Junk, the Dutch publisher. Over the years the journal grew and prospered, and during this time Junk was purchased by and eventually merged with Kluwer Academic Publishers. Under both Junk and Kluwer the price of VEGETATIO was pushed steadily upward. By 1989 the price had reached $783 for libraries and $319 for individuals. Although neither Kluwer nor Junk was willing to release subscription statistics, it is clear that almost no individuals were able to subscribe and that library subscription rates were not climbing and may have actually started to decline. The publishers were also willing to relinquish very little control to the association or the editor.
Confronted with an unresponsive publisher who was unwilling to reduce prices, and lacking the copyright to its official journal, IAVS decided to start a new journal, JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE. The editor and virtually all of the editorial board of VEGETATIO resigned to join the new journal, which will likely publish its first volume in early 1990. IAVS will retain title to its new journal but will contract initially with a new, low-profit publishing firm in Sweden for production. Size and content are expected to reach the size of the old VEGETATIO quickly, but prices will be kept to less than half the old level. Further, individual members of IAVS will be able to purchase personal copies at a considerable discount, making it possible for this to be a journal that will be widely read by the membership.
In the end, the success of the new JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE and this experiment in reducing the cost of information for scholars and libraries will depend on the willingness of librarians to start new subscriptions to bold new ventures like JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE in this day of extremely tight serials budgets.
Readers of the NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES are encouraged to share the information in the newsletter by electronic or paper methods. We would appreciate credit if you quote from the newsletter.
The NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES (ISSN: 1046-3410) is published as news is available by the American Library Association's Association of Library Collections and Technical Services, Publisher/ Vendor-Library Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Serials Pricing Issues. Editor: Marcia Tuttle, BITNET: TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET; Faxon's DataLinx: TUTTLE; ALANET: ALA0348; Paper mail: Serials Department, C.B. #3938 Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27599-3938. Committee members are: Deana Astle (Clemson University), Mary Elizabeth Clack (Harvard University), Jerry Curtis (Consultant), Charles Hamaker (Louisiana State University), Robert Houbeck (University of Michigan), and Marcia Tuttle. EBSCONET customers may receive the newsletter in paper format from EBSCO. Back issues of the newsletter are available electronically free of charge through BITNET from the editor and in paper from ALCTS, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago IL 60611. Paper issues are priced at $5.00 per issue, per copy, prepaid. Billing charge: $2.00, plus postage.