NS28.2 BOOK THEFT RING OPERATION, Harry Llull
NS28.3 COMMENT ON HAMAKER'S HAYMAKERS, Rodney Goins
NS28.4 HAMAKER RESPONDS, Chuck Hamaker
NS28.5 JOURNAL AGENCY DISCOUNTS, Peter Hoey
NS28.6 EFFECT OF QUALITY VS. QUANTITY IN ACADEMIC REWARD DECISIONS, Fred Friend
NS28.7 ELSEVIER VISIT ON NCSU CAMPUS, Nancy Gibbs
Kenneth W. Ford, American Institute of Physics, email@example.com.
Following is a section of a letter I sent to Theresa Connaughton of Los Alamos National Laboratory, who, in an earlier issue of this Newsletter, expressed concern about institutions having to pay for page charges and reprints for their researchers and then, on top of that, having to pay full price for journal subscriptions.
The distribution of revenue among page charges, reprint charges, and subscription income is an important question that we address every year. Be assured, however, that you are not paying twice. If we were to eliminate page charges and/or reprint charges, subscription prices would have to be increased to offset this loss. Conversely, we could avoid subscription price increases if we increased page charges and/or reprint charges enough. Our goal has been to assign at least some reasonable portion of the cost of publication to the researcher (in practice, to the agency or organization supporting the research) in order not to put all of the burden on libraries. What sets a practical limit on page charges and reprint charges is the competitive market for authors. Most commercial journals have no page charges and many give free reprints. You, the librarian, pay all the costs (plus the profit) for these journals. If our charges to authors came to be viewed as excessive, we would lose good papers to the commercial journals with which we compete. The quality of our journals would suffer. With the per-page cost of commercial journals being considerably higher, on average, than the per-page cost of our journals, shifting pages from our journals to theirs would not be in the financial interest of libraries. To retain the strength and quality of our journals, we must, in fact, look at the possibility of lowering page charges and/or reprint charges, even though this has the unfortunate short-term consequence of greater-than-normal increases in subscription prices.
Thanks for the input (via Marcia Tuttle). Pat Berger's presentation at our Publications Board meeting was stimulating and valuable.
NS28.2 BOOK THEFT RING OPERATION
Harry Llull, University of New Mexico, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the police have been investigating a local book theft ring. It has hit several libraries in the area including the University of New Mexico Libraries. We now have some indication that it may not be only local but a national theft ring. A suspect who escaped left behind four library books which had had their security strips taken out. He also left behind a Textbook Buying Guide from out of state which offered wholesale prices. This buying guide was dated December 1991/January 1992 and indicated it came out ten times a year. As are other buying guides, this one was arranged by author, with ISBN numbers in the first column and wholesale and retail prices in the far right columns. This particular incident happened in the Centennial Science and Engineering Library. The four books left behind would have brought $63. The thief was in the library less than an hour. Not a bad return for his time! Has anyone out there identified a similar theft ring in their area? If this is an interstate operation, it is possible the FBI should be brought in to investigate. At UNM we have already had the FBI on two recent cases involving patents and special collection material. How do people feel about textbook buying businesses who allow their want list catalogs to go out anywhere? I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has identified or suspects this activity going on in their library and what effective steps have been taken to address this problem.
NS28.3 COMMENT ON HAMAKER'S HAYMAKERS
Rodney K. Goins, Oregon State University, email@example.com.
I would like to comment on Chuck Hamaker's column in the NS 25 issue. I assume that one of his intentions in writing the article was to bring attention to the efforts of foreign vendors in the area of service charges and discounts. Of particular interest to me was the fact that he made his point by revealing the current discount rate1 he receives from Harrassowitz, Swets and Blackwell's. First, I'm not certain that is was necessary for him to reveal his discount rates, nor was I sure what relevance his financial arrangements with these vendors has to do with me or any other institution that does business with these vendors, unless of course one subscribes to the very same titles from the very same vendors. In addition, I have always taken the attitude that nearly everything is negotiable. Thus, any insitutions dealing with these vendors has the potential of reaching a financial agreement with that vendor that is considerably more favorable than the plans outlined in the article. The arrangement Mr. Hamaker has with his vendors is his business. The arrangement I have with my vendors is my own. I too have subscriptions with at least one of the vendors he mentions, but the discount I receive is based in part on my volume and mix of titles, not his. Therefore, my financial arrangement with the same vendor with whom he does business is not identical to his nor would I expect it to be. Second, the fact that Marcia Tuttle has noted "astounding" service charges on titles that do not fall into the category of zero percent service charge seem to me to be a reflection of her arrangement with that vendor. It may be that her vendor was unwilling to offer a less astounding service charge for a select group of her titles. The reason for the high service charge is unclear. However, I am willing to bet that Marcia and I subscribe to some of the same titles, and perhaps with the same vendor, but my service charge for those titles is probably very different. Again, that is not surprising since we do not have the same mix of titles.
Finally, although there is nothing to prevent Mr. Hamaker from making some of his financial details with vendors known, I'm not sure I would appreciate a similar exchange of information among the vendors. That is, I don't believe that it is ethical for vendors to talk to each other about what they charge their customers for service, the discounts they offer for selected titles, or even what sort of return an institution can expect to receive for prepayment. Similarly, I'm not sure we need to discuss it openly either. I find it doubtful that my knowledge of any part of LSU's financial arrangement with vendors will help me with prepayments, discounts, or future negotiations. LSU's collection is unique and I tend to believe that their discount rate, service charge and all other financial arrangements are every bit as unique.
I would also like to add that there are a number of other European vendors not mentioned in the article that are offering discount rates and benefits for prepayment including, for example, Casalini, Martinus Nijhoff International, and Everett. I'm sure others could add to this list.
1. Unfortunately, Mr. Hamaker has confused the interest received from prepayments with actual discounts. Prepayments often yield interest for customers. As such, many people apply this interest to their bill. But the discount that is received for a title is a separate matter and often remains constant even though the overall bill is reduced through prepayments. In many cases, prepayment does not reduce the cost of the title. It provides a return on one's investment that allows one to get more for the dollar.
NS28.4 HAMAKER RESPONDS
Chuck Hamaker, Louisiana State University, NOTCAH@LSUVM.BITNET.
As several points I attempted to make in my previous column were apparently not very clear, I welcome this opportunity to answer Mr. Goins's concerns. The offers I detailed from Blackwell's and Harrassowitz were NOT a result of any "negotiation." They are public printed offers for all takers. They are independent of title mix. While it may be true that "better" or more advantageous terms might be available depending on title mix, the offers I described had nothing to do with title mix. I did not, provide "details" of LSU's service charge for any of the three vendors I mentioned. I did "reveal" the end result of the combination of factors from two of the vendors discussed. Title "mix" results were ancillary to the main point I was making: Signifi- cant discount from list price is possible without backroom or special "deals." As for vendors discussing what they give us -- they can't -- it's illegal and is called collusion or price-fixing. As for customers stating what they are paying, not only is that entirely legal, it's called consumerism. I treated only two vendors with uniform offers available through public documents. There are others and I assume most librarians know FAXON and EBSCO both have prepayment options. I have not seen public offers from Nijhoff and Casalini. The Swets example was given to indicate the "offers" in Blackwell's and Harrassowitz's public documents were within range of other European vendors' competitive deals. Having a base of knowledge so you know what is possible seems to me to be a major part of my business when I work for a state supported institution. And the results of LSU's negotiations with vendors are part of my state's public record.
In 1979 when I became supervisor of the serials operations in a previous institution, I would have been delighted to have an idea of what a reasonable figure was for service charge and how to determine it. Marcia's example of her service charge calculation was provided as one example of HOW to go about finding out what you are actually paying -- after deducting the "zero" discount titles. Hopefully other librarians will find it a helpful way to calculate their service charge. To do a reasonable job with the funds we are entrusted with we need more information.
We need to benchmark prices, discuss such "mystery" matters as title mix and generally shine some light on the vendor end of our business. Vendors' practices influence our bottom line expenditures. I consider it irresponsible not to put the same light on their practices as the one we shine so brightly on publishers.
Many of the details for this response and the previous column were drawn from the work of October Ivins, LSU's Head of Serials, with follow-up discussions with Jane Maddox and Tina Feick regarding the details of their respective companies' printed offers. The discount results of LSU's work with the vendors mentioned were due to October's efforts; I am only a bystander reporting the results.
NS28.5 JOURNAL AGENCY DISCOUNTS
Peter Hoey, Royal Society of Chemistry, RSC10@UK.AC.
Referring to one of Chuck's recent messages, it seems to me that "discount" is often really the agency just asking for money in advance. That means they get the interest that could have accrued to one's own organization. This mistaken "saving" philosophy also is relevant to 2 year subscriptions. Of course, if a library has money NOW and will not have it in the next relevant time payment slot the logic is different.
NS28.6 EFFECT OF QUALITY VS. QUANTITY IN ACADEMIC REWARD DECISIONS?
Fred Friend, Librarian, University College London, firstname.lastname@example.org
The SCONUL Advisory Committee on Serials (to which I act as Secretary) would welcome the assistance of your excellent Newsletter in asking US librarians about the effect (if any) of the Harvard Medical School limit on the number of publications that can be submitted in support of an application. SCONUL is the UK equivalent of ARL and several of us in our role as library directors have approached our university authorities on the quantity v. quality and publish or perish problems. Some of our vice-chancellors have heard of the Harvard approach and it would help us in encouraging them down that path if we knew how far the Harvard decision has been taken up by other US universities and what the experience has been.
I shall be grateful if anybody who can help us, even with anecdotal experience, could e-mail me on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NS28.7 ELSEVIER VISIT ON NCSU CAMPUS
Nancy Gibbs, North Carolina State University, email@example.com.
Dr. Eefke Smit, Publishing Editor, Engineering & Technology Department of Elsevier Science Publishers, visited North Carolina State University on March 26, 1992, to talk to one of our professors about his reasons for declining an offer for an editorial position on one of their journals. He had given the high cost of their journals as his reason for declining the offer. John Abbott, Assistant Department Head of Collection Management and Orion Pozo, Engineering Sciences Collection Manager, were invited to join the discussion.
They discussed the high price of Elsevier titles, which Dr. Smit attributed to their international marketing costs. She, in turn, stressed that she was trying to put out quality journals because libraries would continue to buy quality titles no matter what their economic situations. She insisted that costs for Elsevier titles had only gone up 6-8%, based on page counts, and that increases beyond that were due to currency fluctuations or increases in number of issues or pages. Pozo and Abbott had statistics from another library that showed an average increase in cost of over 30% for Elsevier titles, which she said must be attributable to these factors. They discussed the pressure on faculty to publish, and the professor said that it was easy to get published if the work was clearly written and had even a minor piece of new information in it. He mentioned new trends that focused on the quality of a few publications rather than on quantity for promotion, tenure and funding decisions. She left the discussion troubled that we didn't resolve any issues, and said she would bring our concerns back to the home office.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 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; 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 these vendors. Back issues of the Newsletter are available electronically at no charge through BITNET from the editor.