The latest issue of ARL (p.8), from the Association of Research Libraries, has a report of its "Quick-SPEC" on members' planned materials expenditures for 1992. Eighty-eight libraries (74 percent) replied. The following paragraphs are reproduced with permission:
Fifty-four libraries, ... 63% of those reporting, indicated planned serials cancellations. In addition, 5 libraries indicated substantial cuts had been made in 1991, enabling them not to cut for the coming year. Cancellations planned average approximately $140,000 per the 50 institutions that reported specific target figures, a combined total of just under $7 million. Fourteen libraries said they would be scrutinizing sciences disciplines for cancellations. Others described across-the-board proportional cuts, with all campus disciplines sustaining the same percentage cut. In sciences this may take fewer titles (higher average price) than in social sciences and humanities.
For 1991, 44 libraries had projected cancellation projects with a reported mean of $122,000 and a total reporting of $3,000,000 in anticipated cancellations. Thus, cancellations for 1992 are projected to be 2.3 times higher than at this time last year, despite a 50% drop in the average journal price increase (from about 20% in 1991 to about 10% in 1992). Libraries commonly cited potential cuts around $200,000.
These unprecedented levels of projected cancellations suggest that libraries, in cooperation with faculty and researchers, are seeking alternative ways to obtain articles (lending, sharing, and document delivery) and are behaving increasingly like a consumer market....
Chilling comments from several states described the additional financial impact on serials subscriptions of state sales tax, which in California is 7.75%. Several respondents asked for an ARL or OSAP electronic list/conference to distribute serials information. Others continue to ask ARL to find a way to maintain a serials cancellation database. Four libraries specifically mentioned a strategy of reviewing publishers with highest rates of increases as their first priority in making serial cancellations.
Announcing a serials reduction of $315,000, Gordon Rowley, Assistant Director for Collections at the Iowa State University Libraries, graphed monographs and serials costs at ISU over 5 years and showed: monograph purchases reduced by 18%; serials purchases reduced by 10%; monograph unit prices up by 43%; and serial unit prices up by 63% overall. George Soete, Assistant Director for Collections at the UC-San Diego, wrote in his annual report, "During the last 5 years, the number of volumes purchased has fallen 28%; the number of volumes per primary user purchased with state funds fell by 40%. ILL borrowing requests have risen by 87%...The continuing long-term problems of rising costs, level budgets, and growing programmatic demands require intensification of long-term strategies in the collections program...."
On the back page of the November 1991Library Issues, Dick Dougherty and Anne Woodworth, in "In the Midst of a Paradigm Shift," comment on the journal pricing crisis. They review options open to campuses and libraries -- cancellation, supplemented library budgets, and electronic "self-publishing" -- then introduce their own means of helping libraries in "Managing the Transformation" (reproduced with permission):
It is our judgment that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift in libraries and campus information environments. Such a transformation is bound to be costly, complex, and stressful, but anyone who believes that the current academic library/information/computing center environment can be maintained is either extremely optimistic or has his head in the sand. The challenge is how to manage the transformation to best achieve the specific objectives of the institution. For this reason, the strategies chosen by research universities will be profoundly different from those chosen by colleges.
Over the next year, Library Issues will present a series of short articles on various aspects of the changing campus information environment. Our intent is not to describe the issue in a technical manner, but in terms that will resonate with academic officers. Our goal is not to offer solutions -- these are best determined on each campus -- but to outline the factors, threats, and opportunities that will shape the campus information environment of the future.
The lead article, which will be presented in January 1992, addresses possibly the most important aspect of this issue -- the culture of the university. The LI editors believe that colleges and universities, already struggling to adjust to the changing economic, social, and political climate in the U.S., should understand how information -- its creation, dissemination, availability, quality, and cost -- both contributes to and is affected by this climate.
Library Issues: Briefings for Faculty and Administrators (ISSN: 0734- 3035), edited by Dougherty, is published six times a year and is available at $35.00 a year from: Library Issues, P.O. Box 8330, Ann Arbor MI 48107; FAX: 313 662-4450.
David Romani, UNC Chapel Hill, passed on an article from the December 2, 1991 issue of Infoworld, by Jerry Purnelle, "a noted science fiction writer and computer columnist." The article is entitled "CD ROM packages offer opportunity for academic journals" (p.50). Pournelle attended a recent scholarly publications conference at the University of Iowa and in the article submits that one of the "most obvious" solutions to the journals pricing crisis is "that libraries form consortia to get groups of journals published on CD ROM," in order to save most of the costs of printing, binding, indexing, shipping, and mailing. "Fifty copies of a CD ROM holding some 25 or 30 different journals could be purchased quarterly for a fraction of the cost for those same journals on paper." He continues:
This could be done through university press associations, but there's a simpler way: Merely guarantee a market, and commercial CD ROM publishers will compete for the chance to do the job. If 300 university libraries would guarantee to subscribe to a CD ROM for $200, the Bureau of Electronic Publishing, Quanta Press, or another CD ROM publisher, would be delighted to do most of the work....
Commenting on scholars' practice of doing research, writing articles, and then giving them to "publishers who sell the information back to the universities at prices the universities can't afford," he says:
You won't learn much about capitalism at a university. How could you? Capitalism is a matter of risks and rewards, and a tenured professor doesn't have much to do with either....
...the scholarly publications business is big business, and there's a major entrepreneurial opportunity for anyone willing to take it. Someone's going to get rich saving money for university libraries....
NS15.2 PERGAMON RESPONDS TO PRINCETON
Michael Boswood, Managing Director, Pergamon Press, Oxford, England.
10 December 1991
Mr Donald W Koepp
One Washington Road
Princeton NJ 08544-2098 USA
Dear Mr Koepp
Your letter of 12 November 1991 has caused me much concern. We have made every effort to communicate our new pricing policy clearly and openly. I enclose a copy of my letter of 23 August 1991, which was sent to all Pergamon customers in the USA.
The philosophy behind our 1992 pricing policy was to eliminate differential pricing, which in the past was favourable to customers in the USA. In 1991, US prices were 18% LOWER than those in the rest of the world. For 1992 the definitive world price for the vast majority of our journals has been set in Pounds Sterling. The increase in this definitive price was restricted to inflation and the growth in size of journals.
You will no doubt be aware that an increasing number of articles are being submitted to journals, and Pergamon's are no exception to this. Accommodating this expansion, whilst upholding quality, is essential to improving the standard of service we provide to the academic community. As a result, the number of pages published in 1992 will increase by around 8% over Pergamon's journal programme as a whole.
Calculated on a per page basis, the average US Dollar increase for 1992 is around 10%. With the benefit of some strengthening of the dollar we were therefore able to limit the US price increase (for the programme overall) to less than 20% while eliminating a differential of 18%. Notwithstanding the impact of eliminating the differential (which was unique to Pergamon) I understand that this increase compares quite favourably in per centage terms with those of a number of US commercial and society publishers.
I obviously regret your decision to reduce the number of subscriptions to Pergamon journals. We are working very hard in Pergamon to maintain and improve the quality of our publications. I hope that in future you will feel able to base decisions regarding holdings on the basis of both quality and cost.
Your decision was apparently based on the perception that Pergamon went beyond "certain very real limits to what should be paid for .... journals." I would be very interested to hear from you what these limits are. Perhaps you could let me know.
Journal pricing is not a simple process and I would be happy to discuss it further with you. I am regularly in the US.
PS. I am also looking into the particulars of Princeton's subscriptions. Given the number of journals involved this will be quite a complicated process but I will write to you again when it has been completed.
cc: Association of Research Library Directors
NS15.3 JOURNALS: THE NEXT FIVE YEARS; EIGHTH
ANNUAL LEARNED JOURNALS SEMINAR
Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers
Provisional Programme10.00 Coffee
March 27, 1992, in the Main Hall, Institution of Mechanical
Engineers, Birdcage Walk, London, SW 1
Honoured Chairman: Sir Roger Elliott
10.20 The Scope and Aims of the Seminar - Glyn Jones, Portland Press
10.30 The Attitude of an Academic Publisher - Robert Welham, Royal Society of Chemistry
11.00 The Choices for Librarians - Malcolm Stevenson, SCONUL
11.30 Document Delivery, In All Its Forms - Blake Radcliffe, University Microfilms
12.00 Printers and Printing, The Future - J.M.W. Turner, Latimer Trend Group
12.30 Presentation of the Charlesworth Award
12.45 - 14.00 Lunch
14.00 Trade Barriers and Copyright - Peter Mason, IPC Magazines
14.30 The Changing Role of the Subscription Agent - John Cox, Blackwells
15.00 Developing Markets, Problems or Possibilities - Tony Reid, International Book Development
15.30 The Future Market for Journals - Richard Rowe, Faxons
16.00 General Discussion
16.15 Close of Meeting: TEA
The fee is L80.00 for members of ALPSP, the Publishers Association, the United Kingdom Serials Group, and the Society for Scholarly Publishing. For all others, it is L95.00. For further information, contact Professor B.T. Donovan, D.Sc., ALPSP Secretary, 48 Kelsey Lane, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 3NE, England.
NS15.4 HIGH PRICES FROM ELSEVIER
Deana Astle, Clemson University, DLAST@CLEMSON.BITNET.
We recently received word from Faxon that prices on eleven Elsevier titles to which we subscribe were going up significantly. Since we were expecting prices on European journals to be a wash this year, or increase only slightly, I was greatly concerned to see that these eleven titles would cost us 40 percent more in 1992 than in 1991, resulting in a cash outlay of $6224 in 1992 vs. $4453 in 1991. In all cases the number of issues published did increase--by almost 48 percent.
Though we are getting "more information for our money," the bottom line is that we do not have the extra $1800 to spend on these journals when we have just finished cancelling titles worth $100,000 just to pay our current bills. The list of journals and their increases follow. The dollar price was furnished by Faxon, which also expressed the expanded size in issues rather than volumes, which is how Elsevier describes its publications.
ISSN Title '92 price '91 price Change 0165-0114 Fuzzy Sets and Systems $1330.69 $1001.12 32.9% 0169-5150 Agricultural Economics 286.13 158.98 80.0% 0378-4320 Animal Reproduction Science 454.45 334.83 35.7% 0166-3542 Antiviral Research 594.05 428.08 38.8% 0167-2681 Jl of Econ Behav & Organ 497.52 359.55 38.4% 0167-9236 Decision Support Systems 222.27 182.58 21.7% 0001-8686 Adv in Colloid & Interface Sci 1,042.57 752.80 38.5% 0166-3615 Computers in Industry 491.58 359.55 36.7% 0167-5877 Preventive Veterinary Medicine 447.02 314.60 42.1% 0921-3449 Resources, Conservat & Recycl 401.98 226.40 77.6% 0378-4290 Field Crops Research 455.94 334.83 36.2% TOTAL: $6,224.20 $4,453.32 39.8%
Title '92 price dfl '91 price dfl Change Fuzzy Sets and Systems 2688 1782 50.8% Agricultural Economics 578 283 104.2% Animal Reproduction Science 918 596 54.0% Antiviral Research 1200 762 57.5% Jl. of Economic Behav. & Organ. 1005 640 57.0% Decision Support Systems 449 325 38.2% Adv. in Colloid & Interface Sci 2106 1340 57.2% Computers in Industry 993 640 55.2% Preventive Veterinary Medicine 903 560 61.3% Resources, Conservat. & Recycl. 812 403 101.5% Field Crops Research 921 596 54.5% TOTAL 12,573 7,927 58.6%
Title '92 issues '91 issues Change Fuzzy Sets and Systems 24 18 33.3% Agricultural Economics 8 4 100% Animal Reproduction Science 12 8 50% Antiviral Research 12 8 50% Jl. of Econ. Behav. & Organ. 9 6 50% Decision Support Systems 6 4 50% Adv. in Colloid & Interface Sci 24 16 50% Computers in Industry 9 8 12.5% Preventive Veterinary Medicine 12 8 50% Resources, Conservat. & Recycl. 8 4 100% Field Crops Research 12 8 50% TOTAL 136 92 47.8%
Title dfl/issue '92 dfl/issue'91 Change Fuzzy Sets and Systems 112.00 99.00 13.1% Agricultural Economics 72.25 70.75 2.1% Animal Reproduction Science 76.50 74.50 2.7% Antiviral Research 100.00 95.25 5.0% Jl. of Economic Behavior & Organ. 111.67 106.67 4.7% Decision Support Systems 74.83 81.25 -7.9% Adv. in Colloid & Interface Science 87.75 83.75 4.8% Computers in Industry 110.33 80.00 37.9% Preventive Veterinary Medicine 75.25 70.00 7.5% Resources, Conservation & Recycl. 101.50 100.75 0.7% Field Crops Research 76.75 74.50 3.0% AVERAGE COST/ISSUE $44.95 $41.88 7.3%
We would have had to pay almost 60 percent more for these titles had not the dollar been stronger against the guilder this year. Cost per issue went up in almost all cases except for Decision Support Systems where the price actually decreased 7.9 percent in guilders. Computers in Industry, on the other hand, showed a 37.9 percent increase in cost per issue, which seems to be rather excessive. It would be useful to know whether the number of pages changed as well as the number of issues.
If the high and low increases are disregarded, the average increase in cost per issue does come down from 6.7 percent to 5.0 percent, which is more manageable though still is an undesirable percentage in these times of tight budgets.
We may rapidly be approaching the time when the straw breaks the camel's back and we must find other ways of disseminating science. The introduction to the 1989/90 ARL statistics states that "...median serials expenditures rose 52 percent from 1986 to 1990. In the same four years, however, the prices paid by the libraries rose 51 percent..." Libraries have been able to maintain serial subscriptions only at 1986 levels. These price and volume increases from Elsevier illustrate the dilemma very well.
NS15.5 FAXON FIGURES
Deana Astle, Clemson University; DLAST@CLEMSON.BITNET.
As I was preparing this information on Elsevier price increases I plugged the figures Faxon provided for 1991 and 1992 rates ("old rate," "new rate") into a spreadsheet and calculated the increases. When John Tagler of Elsevier reviewed my analysis for possible comment he observed, rightly, that the 1991 prices were incorrect; it looked to him as if Faxon had taken the 1991 guilder price and the 1992 guilder price and converted both to dollars at today's exchange rate, thus nullifying the effect of the strenghtened dollar. Faxon admitted that this did indeed happen, at least for this set of notices on Elsevier price increases. They promised to send corrected letters to all affected customers and monitor this activity more closely.
This is but another glaring example of the need for librarians to be more proactive consumers and not to take everything we are told by a vendor -- or even publisher -- as the gospel truth. Mistakes can be and are made. I did at first take Faxon's rate quotes at face value because they have usually been right. I did not then take the leap in logic to notice that the same percentage increase in dollars as for guilders meant the exchange rate had not changed, which we know is not true. We need always to be on our toes.
NS15.6 RESPONSES TO "PRINCETON LETTER" RESPONSES
>From Fred Friend, University College London Library (email@example.com):
I am concerned by the nature of the two responses to the Princeton letter which appeared in Newsletter NS 14. I have e-mailed Princeton applauding their action. Of course Bruce Bennion is right that the problem of excessive price rises is more complex than simply publishers' greed, but the evidence is that the fault lies partly with the publishers, so I believe in making them aware of the consequences of their actions -- i.e. cancellations. The matter is too urgent to wait for research. Discussions are taking place with publishers and with academics on the wider "systemic" problem, and we are beginning to understand the problem better. The point Tony Stankus makes about the European aspect to Pergamon pricing is a contribution to that process of understanding, but it should not distract us from the basic fact that excessive price rises have been occurring in all countries over many years. We have a long-term international problem on our hands.
>From David Salt, University of Saskatchewan (SALT@sklib.usask.ca):
In response to Bennion's heart-rending plea for us to try to understand the publishers' point of view, I can only say this is a luxury I cannot afford. The bottom line for me, as I am sure it is for most librarians, is that I have no more $$$ -- and it is totally immaterial to me what the causes for the increases in serials prices are, I simply cannot keep up.
>From Mary Helms (MHELMS@UNMCVM):
The discussion from B. Bennion & T. Stankus reminds me of two sessions I have been to at previous NASIG meetings. One was a workshop by John Tagler on journal pricing and currency rates and the other was by someone (I can't remember -- but it was a British rep working in Massachusetts) who gave an excellent presentation on the publication process -- from conception to publication. Maybe this second presentation could be re-produced at a NASIG meeting or ALA. I think most librarians are truly ignorant of the publication process. What do you think?
NS15.7 RESPONSES TO "JOURNAL PRICING CRISIS AS A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM"
>From Jim Thompson, University of California - Riverside (THOMPSON@ UCRVMS.BITNET):
I can't leave unchallenged Bruce Bennion's contention in NS 14 that "as yet no one has stepped forward with a zest to look into the journal pricing crisis as a systemic problem ... as opposed to the simple consequence of publisher avarice." I have an entire file drawer of literature on this issue, the majority of which addresses it as a systemic problem. Many analyses conclude that certain publishers have taken advantage of systemic flaws in the scholarly publication process, but I have yet to encounter anyone who credits the publishers with creating those flaws. If Mr. Bennion follows through on the study he proposes, I believe he will soon run into the same literature.
>From Adrian Alexander, The Faxon Company (ALEXANDER@FAXON.COM):
Speaking as someone who has done research and published in the area of serials pricing (and not as a corporate spokesperson), I want to thank Bruce Bennion for raising an important issue that is too often overlooked ("Journal Pricing Crisis as Systemic Problem," NS 14). As Richard Dougherty wrote, "it is the 'publish-or-perish' syndrome that necessitates the acquisition of so many expensive, specialized journals" (Library Administration and Management, Spring '89). The scholarly communication process is supply-driven, responding to the needs of research producers more than those of research users. Scholarly publishing is essentially an unregulated monopoly that can never be competitive as long as it is driven by the need to publish rather than the need for more information. In this type of business environment, high prices area natural economic byproduct.
To me, the real "crime" here is the academic community's abdication of its responsibility to disseminate the fruits of its labors in a cost-effective way. At the last NASIG conference, a Springer person told me that 1/3 of their journals list consisted of society publications. This person also suggested that revenue goals of some of those societies were as aggressive as corporate profit goals. If Bruce is interested in doing research on scholarly publishing, I suggest that he begin with an examination of society titles that are now published commercially. Are the big publishing houses really the "robber barons" that some of us envision, or are they astute business people who were presented with an incredible opportunity they would have been foolish to pass up?
>From Ann O'Neill, UNC Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (ONEIA.ILS@mhs.unc.edu):
I feel the need to come to the defense of library science doctoral students everywhere. In response to Bruce Bennion's question about research into systemic problems driving the journal pricing issue, I'd like to refer him to an article by Gary Byrd, a PhD student at UNC-Chapel Hill. The article "An Economic 'Commons' for Research Libraries: Scholarly Journal Publishing and Pricing Trends," (C&RL, v. 51, May 1990, pp. 184-195) applies economic theory to the pricing issue. This article was important enough to win the ALCTS/Blackwell North America Award for 1990. And lest Bruce think Gary is an "ivory tower" type, he is the Assistant Director for Finance, Planning and Research at the UNC Health Sciences Library.
Also, since Bruce is interested in underlying factors driving the scholarly communication system, I refer him to the work of Derek de Solla Price, who wrote much of the seminal work in the field, especially as it relates to the growth of scientific literature. Other people to read -- Robert Merton, who has done work on the reward system in science, Jonathan and Stephen Cole, Warren Hagstrom, or any number of the people who have studied the sociology of science and its communication system. Charles Osburn has done a lot of work on the scholarly communication issue in the library literature. Many recent issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education have also carried articles on the problems of "publish or perish" and how this relates to journal pricing problems.
Yes, there are many factors driving the current scholarly communication situation and the attendant serials pricing issue. Publisher bashing may be too easy, but the commercial publishers have done little to bring the crisis to an end. It is time for librarians, faculty and authors to take action against the major publishers, while at the same time looking at what we do that contributes to the system and the problem. Sometimes we have to be rash to get people's attention.
By the way, my own "weighty" research problem is investigating the communication patterns between researchers and practitioners in professional fields. That way we can begin to see how folks like myself and Bruce actually communicate on the important issues and research in the field.
NS15.8 RESPONSE TO PRICING UPDATES
David Salt, University of Saskatchewan; SALT@sklib.usask.ca.
I do not know where Faxon and Blackwells get their numbers regarding projected increases. I try to keep on top of what is happening with my particular "basket" of titles (in Engineering and Computing), using the publishers' list prices. The 1991 increases for my Elsevier titles over 1990 was 26 percent, and for Pergamon 28.9 percent. So far the increases for 1992 over 1991 are running at 20 percent for Elsevier, and 28.6 percent for Pergamon (not all 1992 prices available yet). Remember, these figures are taken from the serials themselves.
For the figures quoted by Faxon and Blackwells to be accurate, some areas must be experiencing zero or even negative price inflation -- which I have yet to see!
NS15.9 NEWS FROM GORDON & BREACH
Press Release dated December 10, 1991.
Gordon and Breach announces the purchase of Verlag der Kunst, the leading East German art book publisher located in Dresden and founded in 1952. Included on the Kunst spring 1992 list are El Lissitzky: Recollections, Letters, Writings by Sophie Lissitzky-Kuppers, and Dresden: Flight into the Past, edited by Christian Borchert.
Kunst, while retaining the imprint name, will be called G+B Fine Arts Press Verlag, GmbH. Kunst will be the centerpiece of a publishing program to be called Arts International which will publish internationally in English, Spanish, French and Japanese as well as German.
Klaus Selbig remains Publisher of Kunst where he began in 1987.
Also participating in Arts International will be Craftsman House, purchased by Gordon and Breach in 1990, and Fine Arts Press bought in 1991, both located in Sydney.
In further news, Gordon and Breach has purchased 17 journals from Academie Verlag, formerly the East German Academy of Sciences publishing unit. G+B has opened an office in Berlin to expand the German language program and local distribution.
For more information: Jon Gillett 212 206-8900, x 207.
NS15.10 FROM THE MAILBOX
The mailbox is: TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET.
>From Susan A. Cady, Lehigh (sac0@ns1.CC.Lehigh.EDU):
Margaret Bauer, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Library Association, just called to report that the bill which exempts non-profit educational institutions from the new Pennsylvania periodicals tax has now passed both the House and Senate. It remains only for the Governor to sign off. Language was inserted into various amendments to House Bill 1321 to tidy up several of the new taxes enacted last summer and their alleged unintended results. Thus in Pennsylvania most libraries will NOT after all have to pay tax on periodicals as was earlier reported by me to the Newsletter.
>From Norman Stevens, University of Connecticut (HBLADM3@UCONNVM. BITNET):
Egads. Two reports in issue # 13 of your fine newsletter lead me to question the intelligence and logic of people. Perhaps you might run the following under the heading "You Know You're Right."
The brilliant logic of commentators who want to demonstrate that they are right somehow escapes me. In issue # 13 of the newsletter John Tagler of Elsevier offers an odd explanation of why journal costs sometimes increase when a "reputable" publisher takes over. He argues that better financial management and improvements in the editorial operation, production, and distribution of a journal often result in increased costs. Whoops! I had the mistaken idea that better financial management and improvements ought, at least in part, to allow the publisher to reduce costs and even to increase subscriptions thus further helping to reduce costs. Maybe I just don't understand the new world economic order.
But if you find that puzzling just think about the logic of those brilliant folks who attended the International Federation of Science Editors and Ann Schaffner's report that they concluded, among other things, that third world countries are in a position to "leap-frog" current technologies (e.g., paper) and move directly to electronic formats. Don't they understand that many third world countries are even further behind in terms of access to electronic equipment and systems -- not to mention electricity -- than they are to paper based systems. They need only read Anthony Smith's The Geopolitics of Information which, although published in 1980, is still the best treatise on the electronic poverty of the have not nations. Or have heard one of the ministers of Zaire explain how his country had been on the edge of an abyss and then took a giant step forward. I would appreciate it if anyone could explain how third world countries might realistically be expected to "leap-frog" current technologies.
>From Bill Benson, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Library (DataLinx: FL2802):
A Pergamon surprise awaits those of us subscribing to Solid State Electronics in 1992. The title now includes Applied Superconductivity and jumps from last year's (Faxon) price of $585 to $1,104. A mere 89 percent hike! According to a phone conversation with Pergamon, you can no longer get Solid State... separately, however Pergamon's Journal Information no. 6 October 1991 says that non-subscribers can get Applied Superconductivity separately. Pretty strange if true. Our overall Pergamon increase for prices on 6 titles is 32 percent. (We don't have prices on 46 other subscriptions yet as we missed receiving the 1992 general price catalog.)
>From Fred Friend, University College London Library (firstname.lastname@example.org):
I do not know whether the Newsletter is stll publicising price rises due to the unwanted combination of journals, but we have heard of two recently which may or may not affect US libraries: the l992 price for Solid State Electronics (Pergamon) includes Applied Superconducting (which we do not want) leading to an 89 percent increase, and Solar Cells (Elsevier) has been merged with Solar Energy Materials to form Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells with a price increase of 64 percent over what we were paying last year.
NS15.11 HAMAKER'S HAYMAKERS
Chuck Hamaker, Louisiana State University, NOTCAH@LSUVM.BITNET
The Princeton letter landed in libraries faster than any message I've ever seen. It moved across networks and became a fax classic instantly. Most librarians recognized it for what it is. The right answer at the right time.
Publishers have consistently given a single response to all the "talk" about them. "Our bottom line hasn't been hurt and as long as we continue to make a good profit doing things the way we have been doing them, we have no reason to change." For all the posturing and complaining, the publishers whose pricing was most destructive to library collections have never received a "market" message. "Chuck" they said, "you may complain, but at the end of the day you have to have what we sell." And as long as faculty and library could not agree that price was an issue, they were right.
The Princeton letter has raised a challenge not only to a specific publisher but to all academic libraries. If you don't like what is happening, the only logical response is to do something about it. Librarians have been counseled almost since the beginning of what I think of as the seven years' war, not to attack specific publishers, not to tell others when we "target" cancellations, not to do anything that in fact a normal consumer would do. The lawyers told us we MIGHT get sued. When Gordon & Breach did sue, the I told you so's came out of the woodwork in droves.
In fact, at least two major academic libraries I know have done wholesale cancellation based on publisher behavior. But they were afraid to say so publicly. Princeton has told us what they did and why. It is an unusual position of courage and honesty. It is exactly what Dick Dougherty tried to do at Michigan not so long ago. Dougherty was unsuccessful, but he was right. Koepp has succeeded with the support of an internationally renowned faculty. We should one and all offer them our sincerest thanks for leading the way.
The principle in the Princeton letter is so simple, you wonder why nobody else has applied it. If a publisher is out of line, say so and then do something about it. Saying so is less than half the battle. Doing something is the whole battle. The faculty and library at Princeton have done something about it and done it eloquently and bravely. Their example is what the rest of the library world has been waiting for. The prestige of the institution and the sincerity of the position are unassailable. The intelligence and rightness of the action are obvious to librarians and publishers alike.
Publishers have told us for the last seven years that without the exact action Princeton has taken, there will be no change in the system. Princeton, the home of so much that was important in American beginnings, has shot the first real fusillade in the battle for responsible pricing be havior. The rest of us have just been shooting off our mouths. Princeton did what others have not had the will or courage or intelligence or savvy to do. The Koepp letter is one of the most important pieces written about serials pricing in the last seven years. It may be the first real shot fired in the "serial wars."
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 by the editor as news is available. Editor: Marcia Tuttle, BITNET: TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET; Faxon's DataLinx: TUTTLE; Paper mail: Serials Department, C.B. #3938 Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27599-3938; Telephone: 919 962-1067; FAX: 919 962-0484. Editorial Board: Deana Astle (Clemson University), Jerry Curtis (Springer Verlag New York), Charles Hamaker (Louisiana State University), James Mouw (University of Chicago), and Heather Steele (Blackwell's Periodicals Division). The Newsletter is available on BITNET and ALANET. EBSCO and Readmore Academic customers may receive the Newsletter in paper format from EBSCO and Readmore, respectively. Back issues of the Newsletter are available electronically free of charge through BITNET from the editor.