Synapses in the brain can short circuit as one grows older, letting incorrect information pass unnoticed from the eye to the mind. I experienced this recently when I reported in the Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues on an egregious price increase for a Pergamon journal. While the title did have a price jump of 120 percent from $375 to $825, while doubling in frequency from 4 issues to 8, its name was NOT Combustion and Flame, which is published by Elsevier, but rather Computers and Fluids. Somewhere between seeing the words on the paper and transcribing them through the keyboard, the one title transmogrified into the other. Pergamon's Computers and Fluids, not Elsevier's Combustion and Flame, was the real culprit.
This might have just been embarrassing to me had not some readers apparently cancelled Combustion and Flame with Elsevier, citing the information in the Newsletter as the reason. While Combustion and Flame did increase in price, it went up ONLY 23.5 percent (from $560 to $690), with a 25 percent increase in size.
Some observations are in order. First, it is so easy to sit down at a terminal, compose an e-mail message, and send it off without the rigorous review given a "printed" text being submitted for publication. I tend to spot errors more easily in a "typed" document than I do when proofreading a screen -- witness the fact that I checked and double-checked the figures, but the difference in titles did not register. I know I will be doubly careful in the future, but I suspect this is a tendency many if not most of us share, and we need to be aware of it.
Second, though we try not to make mistakes at the Newsletter, we are human. Some people may have used the information found here indiscriminantly when they cancelled Combustion and Flame, ignoring the discrepancy between publishers, frequencies, and price. Information should be used responsibly, and questions should be raised if something "looks funny."
Third, the Newsletter does have clout. People did take action because of information found here, and publishers have taken notice. This behooves us all to be sure of our facts and to record them properly, while those who read need to do so intelligently.
I do apologize to Elsevier and to the readers for my lapse; I will try to ride herd more closely over my synapses in the future.
28.2 FROM THE EDITOR
Marcia Tuttle, e-mail: TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET.
I want to thank Deana for correcting our error in issue no. 26, and I want to reinforce what she says. We were careless, and our carelessness apparently led to a loss of business for one publisher. This is scary! But instead of finding some way to penalize us for our mistake, John Tagler from Elsevier called, told us what had happened, and asked that we correct the error. We are more than happy to do so. We have learned from this experience. As Deana says, it is easy to be more casual about what is disseminated by electronic means. This is not a refereed journal, it is a newsletter. And it is an electronic newsletter. As editor, I receive lots of friendly messages from subscribers and some of us carry on a lighthearted, informal electronic correspondence. It's easy to let that casual atmosphere carry over into the Newsletter, which does get distributed in print by some electronic subscribers. No more! We've learned our lesson. We will make more mistakes, being human beings, but we, and especially I as editor, will do a lot more verifying of information before each issue goes out. At the same time, let me ask you not to trust us any more than I will trust our contributors. Please verify our information, especially pricing information, for yourselves before taking any action. For various reasons libraries DO pay different prices for the same title and libraries have very different constituencies. Use our information as an alert to evaluate journals held by your library to see if they are worth the subscription price FOR YOUR READERS.
Margaret Landesman at the University of Utah (MLANDESM@UTAHLIB.BITNET) sends this news:
We are in the midst of a study here that might interest you. Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, and Utah State are comparing our Elsevier, Pergamon, Springer, and Karger holdings. We have found that 683 titles are held by at least one of us. Of these, 279 are held by only one school, 223 by two schools, and 181 by all three schools. But what is interesting is the prices. The average price for a journal held at only one school is $378. The average price for a journal held by two of the three schools is $571. The average price of a journal held by all three schools is $864. We aren't sure what we are going to do about this, but are getting real serious about doing something....28.3 MORE SPECIFIC LARGE PRICE INCREASES
Received three more notices of price increases from Faxon. Two of them are for Wiley (US) titles. Are we beginning to see a pattern emerging? The titles are:
Philosophical Magazine, A, B, C (Taylor & Francis). Price increased 45 percent, from $775 to $1125 for the same number of issues. Information was received from the publisher earlier that the journal would "increase in size and price," though there was no indication of the former from Faxon, unless the number of pages grows.
Journal of the American Society for Information Science (Wiley US): price increased 51 percent, from $195 to $295 for two more issues a year. In 1990 the eight issues of this journal were $24.38 each; the two extra issues in 1991 are thus adding $50 each to the price (10 issues for $29.50 each).
Journal of Applied Polymer Science (Wiley US): this title increased 73 percent, from $1295 to $2243; issues grew from two volumes, 24 issues, to three volumes, 36 issues. Each new issue added $79 to the cost.
Attributing all of the extra cost to the extra issues may be considered simplistic and does not account for "expected inflation," but it does make the situation stand out.
28.4 "LAW LIBRARIANS RECONSIDER RISING COSTS OF TREATISE
Margaret Axtmann, Cornell University Law Library;
The October 12, 1990 issue of Publishers Weekly contains an article discussing an issue not addressed in this newsletter before. ("Law Librarians Reconsider Rising Costs of Treatise Supplements," by Marguerite E. Mulvihill, p. 34-35). General librarians as well as law librarians will be interested in this account of how some law librarians have responded to the rising costs and proliferation of looseleaf treatise supplements.
Looseleaf treatises in one or more volumes are supplemented with frequencies ranging from quarterly to annually. Supplements consist of loose pages that are either interfiled into the text or filed as a self-contained supplement within the binder. Thus, in addition to the actual cost of the original publication there are costs for the supplements as well as the associated costs of processing and filing the material. Because it is the nature of legal materials that they must be continually updated, the practices of major legal publishers in this area have not always fallen under great scrutiny. In recent years, however, law librarians have complained that the increasing frequency of these supplements is unjustified and that many supplements do not contain significant changes in the law. One law librarian's response to that, as discussed in the article, is not to maintain subscriptions to the supplementation, but rather to purchase new sets every two or three years. Supplementation costs over that time period often exceed the cost of a new set. The question of providing up-to-date legal information is constantly balanced against the need to maintain some control over these runaway costs.
The idea of purchasing whole new sets of material periodically has taken hold in the law library world and many large and small libraries are exercising this option. I have always maintained that the record-keeping involved in this practice is too complex and time-consuming for a large library to be able to manage. Furthermore, I believe that the direct savings are eaten up in indirect costs. Since this has received so much publicity in the last few years, however, it has served to make publishers more aware that they are being watched and that our budgets have real limits.
Further evidence of the ongoing concern with this issue is a program that is being planned for next year's American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting. Entitled "Looseleaf Treatises: To Buy or Not to Buy and the Question of Upkeep," this program will focus on the decision-making process concerning the selection purchase and upkeep of looseleaf treatises.
28.5 ALCTS AWARDS
Submitted by Award Jury Chairs
BLACKWELL/NORTH AMERICA SCHOLARSHIP AWARD. This ALCTS - Resources Section award was first given in 1976. Since that time, more than twenty-seven authors have been honored. Last year the recipient of this award was Joe A. Hewitt of the University of North Carolina for his article "On the Nature of Acquisitions," (Library Resources & Technical Services 33: 105-122, April 1989). The scholarship will go to a student at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College. PURPOSE: To honor the author or authors of the outstanding 1990 monograph, article, or original paper in the field of acquisitions, collection development, and related areas of resources development in libraries. SCHOLARSHIP: Blackwell/North America will donate a $1,000 scholarship to the U.S. or Canadian Library School of the winning author's choice. The Scholarship will be given to a student concentrating in the acquisition or collection development areas. PROCEDURE: Please send nominations to: Frank D'Andraia; Chair, Blackwell North America Scholarship Award Committee; Chester Fritz Library; University of North Dakota; P.O. Box 9000; Grand Forks ND 58202; FAX: (701) 777-3319. Deadline is December 1, 1990. Please include a statement giving the full bibliographic citation of the article, book, or paper you are nominating, plus your reasons for the nomination. Committee members are: Frank A. D'Andraia (University of North Dakota), Eugene L. Wiemers, Jr. (Northwestern University), and Margaret C. Wong (Los Angeles County Public Library).
ALCTS SERIALS SECTION BOWKER/ULRICH'S SERIALS LIBRARIANSHIP AWARD. 1990 Winner: Jean G. Cook, Iowa State University. An annual award consisting of a citation and a $1500 cash award for distinguished contributions to serials librarianship within the previous three years, demonstrated by such activities as leadership in serials-related activities through participation in professional associations and/or library education programs, contributions to the body of serials literature, conduct of research in the area of serials, development of tools or methods to enhance access to or management of serials, other advances leading to a better understanding of the field of serials. PROCEDURE: Please send nominations to: Sue Anne Harrington; 1403 Sycamore; Norman OK 73072, by December 1, 1990. Please include all supporting documentation.
28.6 AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION RENEWAL
Submitted by Terry Sayler, University of Maryland, McKeldin Library, College Park MD 20742.
AGU has heard the message and it using it as publicity!
September 6, 1990
It is time to renew your subscriptions to AGU journals.
Studies on the impact and value of scientific publications consistently place AGU journals at the top among similar journals. The 1991 rates for the Journal of Geophysical Research are just 8 cents per thousand words of science. This is a bargain compared to 70 cents or 80 cents for some scientific journals.
This high return per cost is characteristic of AGU's efforts to cut production costs, absorbing the phenomenal growth of the geophysical sciences, and maintaining the highest quality for its journals.
At the same time deliberate attempts are being made by AGU to attract the highest caliber scientists away from publishing in more expensive alternatives. These attempts are noticeably working. More and more European authors are publishing in AGU journals....
28.7 HAMAKER'S HAYMAKERS
Chuck Hamaker, Louisiana State University; NOTCAH@LSUVM.BITNET.
Under the title of Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, the recent Faxon Report, 1, 3 (summer 1990):4, notes that the purchase of Kunst & Wissen in Germany did include worldwide distribution of journals published by Akademie-Verlag. The announcement that "Through K & W ... we will place and fulfill orders for every subscriber on a worldwide basis" was true then, but is true no more. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, the publishing industry learned that Akademie Verlag, publisher of about 60 journals and 400 books annually was purchased by VCH. Null and void on the distribution agreement. Also of note in the Faxon Report was the return of Frank Clasquin, rejoining Faxon as Principal Advisor to the President. "Frank's first assignment will send him abroad" to the new office in Moscow, "to develop a major serials control and reship operation for both imported and exported serials. He will also serve as 'official advisor' to ICSTI (International Center for Scientific and Technical Information)."
Dr. H.J. Dorpinghaus and the German Library Association filed a complaint last year with the European Economic Commission in Brussels concerning differential pricing within the EEC of Pergamon journals. German libraries, as he reported in various issues of Bibliotheksdienst, had been paying a premium of 47 percent to 60 percent because of purchasing Pergamon titles in Germany from German sources at an inflated Deutschmark price. British libraries had a different price list, in pounds sterling, and American libraries were paying an even lower price based on a US dollar price list. The Commission has ruled that Pergamon cannot restrict pricing within the EEC. This ruling should have a major effect on equitable pricing throughout the continent. Other publishers including Gordon and Breach and many French publishers have established differential pricing throughout the continent based on local currency based lists. Where the local currency lists effectively restrict one set of prices to a specific country, this ruling apparently will provide a precedent for European libraries to challenge the practice.
Differential pricing, which Dr. Dorpinghaus has called in private correspondence, a scourge, is increasingly under attack. In addition to this very recent ruling, Dr. Knut Dorn, appearing at the IFLA program in Stockholm, addressed the issue from one vendor's perspective in "Will the Chain Break? Differential Pricing as a Part of a New Pricing Structure for Research Literature and its Consequences for the Future of Scholarly Communication."
In the program, sponsored by the IFLA Section on Acquisitions and Exchange, Dr. Dorn explained the multiple problems multiple prices for the same item present to vendors when pricing is based on "geographical considerations":
We have seen practically every combination of subsidizing and penalizing subscribers or purchasers of scholarly materials in one or the other continent or country, and often the situation has changed and been reversed in only a couple of years. North American publishers have been very consistent in charging European subscribers and institutions an inflated and marked-up price, whereas European publishers have been rather flexible in this respect: in the late 70s and early 80s the idea was to charge higher prices for American libraries, but in the last couple of years the tendency has been to subsidize the US market and let European subscribers pay the higher bill. But no matter which side the publisher favors, there is always the other side that is confronted with the higher price.
My own perspective is that much as water seeks its level, higher prices for one part of the world always act as a benchmark and all prices trend towards the highest price. Differential pricing in the long run endangers the whole system. Congratulations, Dr. Dorpinghaus and our German colleagues.
The Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues (ISSN: 1046-3410) is published as news is available by the American Library Association's Association for 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.