NS26.2 BLOEMBERGEN'S LETTER ABOUT _APS NEWS_, Nicolaas Bloembergen
NS26.3 ANOTHER FAXON LETTER ABOUT PERGAMON PRICES IN DATABASE, Joel Baron
Harry Lustig, City College of New York and the American Physical Society, APSAP@CUNYVM.BITNET.
I am the Treasurer of the American Physical Society and a former Provost of the City College of New York who is sadly acquainted with the serials pricing crisis faced by librarians. I was, however, greatly distressed to see (for the first time) the APS criticized (twice!) in the Newsletter.
In issue NS 23, Katy Ginanni states that she has received several issues of APS NEWS without having subscribed to any such thing. She implies that APS NEWS is a new publication that was added to existing subscriptions to the BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY at additional cost.
I can see how she could have been led to this conclusion by an ambiguous phrase in the 1992 AIP price list of publications. However, the conclusion is quite erroneous. What happened is that the former BULLETIN was divided into two parts, in order better to serve APS members and meeting attendees and to save paper. During the changeover year 1992, libraries are being mailed both parts at the price that would have been charged for the former single journal.
Because he was afraid that such a misunderstanding might occur, Prof. Nicolaas Bloembergen, the President of the American Physical Society, sent a letter to all library subscribers, explaining in detail what was being done and why. Evidently Katy Ginanni did not see this letter. Because it is possible that other important librarian-colleagues are in the same boat, I am faxing the letter to you in the hope that it or excerpts can be published in the Newsletter. I will be glad to send copies to anyone else on request.
Katy Ginanni, however, does have a point. APS has always priced its journals, so as not to oblige or even encourage librarians to purchase a journal they did not want or need. Even the sections of THE PHYSICAL REVIEW -- A,B,C and D -- have been available separately and the subscription price for them together has been exactly the same as the sum of the prices for the individual sections. With APS NEWS and the BULLETIN now separate journals, I shall recommend to the Council of the American Physical Society that, beginning in 1993, they also be separately subscribable by libraries as well as by APS members.
In issue NS 22, Keith Stetson summarizes a two page article that appeared in APS NEWS in eight lines. The article deals with the difficult and contentious issue of page charges, assessed to authors' institutions for publishing their papers in the PHYSICAL REVIEW and in PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS. Page charges are used to help finance the cost of journals by many US not-for-profit scholarly societies (particularly in the physical sciences), but not by commercial and other European publishers.
Arguments over page charges have taken place for many years among APS' authors, readers, subscribers and members -- most of them university faculty members and many of them university administrators -- who decide APS' policies. The main arguments for page charges are that 1) helping to defray the cost of publication is a legitimate -- and usually minor -- cost of research and 2) they help to keep down the subscription prices to libraries. The chief arguments against are that 1) with sharp cuts in research budgets, scientists are increasingly unable or unwilling to pay the page charges and 2) they are therefore sending articles that would qualify for publication in THE PHYSICAL REVIEW to lower quality journals, which, on a per page basis, cost the libraries much more. Thus everybody loses, except the commercial publishers.
Over the last ten years, first one side and then the other has carried the day in the APS councils, resulting in seemingly irrational fluctuations in our page charge policy. At present page charge income covers about 13 percent of the cost of APS' journals.
What the APS NEWS article reports is a decision to experiment for a limited time with suspending page charges in one section of THE PHYSICAL REVIEW and for electronically submitted manuscripts in another section. In conducting the experiment, we will try to avoid loading most of the 13 percent loss onto the libraries and we will certainly not do so abruptly.
Keith Stetson then goes on to contrast the 13 percent limit with the statement that the 1992 subscription price for PHYSICAL REVIEW A & B & C & D increased 14.7 percent from 1991. But the two numbers have nothing to do with one another. The increase from 1991 to 1992 was mostly due to the increase in costs as a result of growth in the size of the journals and not at all due to the suspension of page charges, which has not yet happened.
We know that this "natural" increase is a big problem for the libraries, but we don't know how to avoid it. Refusing to publish the papers that have passed our rigorous refereeing process would only result in their being published in more expensive journals. Perhaps going to a different mode of publishing can help. It is a problem whose solution should cooperatively engage the scientific and library community.
NS26.2 BLOEMBERGEN'S LETTER ABOUT _APS NEWS_
Nicolaas Bloembergen, Harvard University; President, American Physical Society, 335 East 45th Street, New York NY 10017.
To: Librarians and Other Non-Member Subscribers to the _Bulletin of The American Physical Society_
Beginning on January 1, 1991, [sic] the venerable _Bulletin of The American Physical Society_ will be produced and distributed in two parts: the _Bulletin of The American Physical Society_ (BAPS) and _American Physical Society News_ (APS NEWS). This action will have no effect on your subscription price, even though as a library or other non-member subscriber, you will receive both parts. We would like to explain the reasons for this new arrangement and its consequences.
For many years the Bulletin has had a variegated content, serving several purposes. Most monthly issues have included abstracts of papers to be given at upcoming APS meetings, announcements of future meetings, and Society news and reports, considered to be of interest to the general membership. Several issues each year have carried the abstracts of past meetings that were not available for advance publication, and there have been occasional articles of general interest to physicists and other readers. In addition, one issue each year was reserved solely for the Membership and Governance Directory of the APS, or the Directory of Physics Faculties and Staffs (produced by the American Institute of Physics).
The new BAPS will consist entirely of abstracts and programs of meetings. Each issue will be devoted to only one meeting and there will be one issue per year that will contain "delayed" abstracts and programs. _APS News_ will contain all the remaining items published in the old Bulletin in a much more readable format. The December issue of _APS News_ will be the Directory issue. While we believe that all of the content is of archival interest and should be available in libraries, individual APS members do not need, or wish to receive indiscriminately, the frequently massive volume of abstracts for those meetings in which they have no interest. Yet in the past, the Bulletin has been sent to all 42,000 APS members at an unnecessary cost to the Society and to the environment.
The split will permit us later on to make individual issues of BAPS available on subscription to those members who are interested in the particular meeting whose abstracts are published in a corresponding issue. All APS members will receive _APS News_ as a membership benefit. Because most APS members will no longer receive most abstracts and programs of meetings, we believe it is more important than ever for this informational and archival material to be available in libraries.
BAPS and _APS News_ will have individual Library of Congress numbers and will be paginated separately. BAPS will retain bibliographic continuity with the old Bulletin, as well as its ISSN number: 0003-0503. The ISSN number for _APS News_ will be 1058-8132. In 1991 [sic] you will receive nine issues of BAPS and twelve issues of _APS News_, as compared to eleven issues of the Bulletin in 1990 [sic]. The combined subscription price to BAPS and _APS News_ -- $400 -- is exactly what it would have been without the split. The repackaging will thus have no financial or other effect on library subscribers.
We hope this information is of interest to you. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know. On behalf of all the officers of The American Physical Society, let me assure you of our concern and consideration for all the members and components of our community.
NS26.3 ANOTHER FAXON LETTER ABOUT PERGAMON PRICES IN DATABASE
Joel Baron, Faxon Company, BARON@FAXON.COM.
1 April 1992
As the person at Faxon with ultimate global responsibility for the rate data in our Title File as well as for our publisher relations, I have been following with great interest the online discussions about Faxon's policies and practices related to publisher price changes, and in particular related to Pergamon's price changes this past fall. It seems as if it is now time for an official response from Faxon.
First of all, Pergamon released its 1992 rates on Friday, August 16, 1991 and were received in my office first thing Tuesday morning, the 20th. We proceeded immediately to incorporate into our Title File the bibliographic changes associated with those rates; what delayed the inputting of the rates themselves is explained later in this letter.
Second, when Faxon's Mike Markwith quoted me in his February 12th letter to you, the quote read "we had some technical problems with the coding and were unable to read the [initial Pergamon 1992 pricing] tape." That is also true. What has led to some confusion is Mike's next statement: "There were reprogramming requests of Pergamon, and other attempts to machine load the rates failed." For the record: the requests we made of Pergamon were responded to in due course; the failed attempts at uploading were solely Faxon problems, and had nothing to do with anyone intentionally attempting to withhold rates.
Third, Faxon's Adrian Alexander wrote to the Newsletter on February 18th saying that there are publishers who "require a renewal commitment or new order anywhere from 1 to 3 months in advance of the start date of the new subscription, but may not set the new 'firm price' until the beginning of the new subscription period." That is quite true. Despite the fact that Adrian's article was entitled "Subscription Agent's Response to the Princeton Letters", we would like to make it quite clear that he was not talking about Pergamon. This is not nor to my recollection has ever been either Pergamon's policy or its practice.
For a number of years Faxon's Publisher & Publication Services group has been reworking some internal systems as well as working with our top 1,000 publishers in order to find ways of inputting new rates at earlier and earlier dates; our eventual goal in doing this would be to eliminate all supplemental invoices. For subscription year 1991 we had a moderate degree of success; this year our success rate was extraordinarily high: our 1992 Elsevier rates were active in the Title File 57 days earlier than our 1991 rates, Springer rates were active 24 days earlier, Taylor & Francis rates were 72 days earlier, John Wiley 55 days earlier, and so on.
Faxon has been involved in many experiments and pilot studies during its history -- most have benefitted all the participants in our industry: librarians and publishers as well as our fellow subscription agents. For the past several years Pergamon had been working with us to find ways of transmitting prices electronically so that this annual event could occur as quickly as possible. As I'm sure you know, experiments usually have their ups and downs, and this year for Faxon, this particular experiment had a series of downs. But they were just problems, not intentional acts aimed at slowing down client access to new prices. Pergamon's prices are always available in the summer, and Faxon goes to extremes to get prices into its database as quickly as possible.
Faxon's work in this area has now proceeded through two recent pilot projects, and has now evolved into an international program involving publishers, libraries, and serials agents working together to develop transaction sets that will allow for the electronic transmission of claims, prices, and orders using the EDI X12 standard.
Faxon has always been clear about its responsibilities to its clients, and works closely with publishers in carrying out those responsibilities. We will continue to work with you, with our other clients, and with our suppliers to develop better ways of addressing the difficulties libraries are facing in these complex times. We hope this public conversation can now move toward developing the ways in which we can all work together more efficiently and effectively in serving our constituencies.
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, CB #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. 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.