NS36.2 FAXON'S RESPONSE TO THE 1992 CATALOG PROBLEM, James L. Smith
NS36.3 _ROMANCE PHILOLOGY_ PRICE INCREASE, Sandra Whisler
NS36.4 THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS, Buzzy Basch
NS36.5 FROM THE MAILBOX
Marcia Tuttle, TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET or Marcia_Tuttle@unc.edu.
Since the last newsletter on June 17, NASIG/SSP/AAUP (cold Chicago) and ALA (warm San Francisco) have come and gone. Everywhere the journals pricing news is bad, with some rumors of more than 20 percent increases for foreign scientific journals, in part because of the weakening of the US dollar, but in part because of the impact of libraries' cancellations. Subscriptions that librarians cancelled effective the end of 1991 are affecting the 1993 prices; those we are cancelling effective the end of 1992 are not yet known to the publishers (in most cases). It bodes ill for 1994 and beyond.
Better news from both conferences was the efforts subscription agents and publishers are making to work with librarians to find ways to reduce the costs of issuing, distributing, and acquiring serials. A particularly good workshop at NASIG, led by three British publishers, generated ideas at the time for reducing costs and is continuing to provoke discussions about helping us all survive this crisis.
Finally, my mail system is having problems again. If you have missed any issues, please let me know. I've been told they're moving me to a supercomputer, but don't hold your breath....
NS36.2 FAXON'S RESPONSE TO THE 1992 CATALOG PROBLEM
James L. Smith, Vice President and Director, Academic Information Service Center, The Faxon Company.
June 16, 1992 (Fax received by editor on June 22)
Thank you for sending us the 06 June 92 E-mail message from one of your newsletter readers which raised valid questions about our latest issue of _Faxon Guide to Serials, 1992_.
I appreciate the opportunity to respond with clarifications and a summary of actions we will be taking to further inform our clients about correct interpretations of volume, date and price information in the new catalog.
Your reader is correct. We appreciate this perceptive person's initiative in quickly pointing out the discrepancy. The new 1992 catalogs our printer just mailed out are inconsistent with our previous catalogs and this can possibly create some confusion for our clients. Faxon clients are sent new reference catalogs each year and we are moving quickly to inform each library of the mistake your reader discovered.
Responding to many of our clients' suggestions, we introduced a new catalog program this year. The new catalog format now provides publishers' names, country-of-origin, and multiple prices in addition to the standard data fields and the highlighting of titles offering us discounts which help us offer lower service charge rates to clients. We completely redesigned the main catalog and launched two new subject catalogs (business and health science). The main catalog is the only one with the problem.
Traditionally, our catalogs showed both pricing and volume/year data for the year indicated on the cover. The 1992 release should, therefore, list 1992 prices with corresponding 1992 volume/year information. In fact, our 1992 edition shows 1992 pricing with 1993 volume/year. The information in each column is essentially correct, but inconsistent with past versions due to a production error.
The title listing showing 1993 volumes and dates should be 1992 volumes and dates. Our catalog production program was originally designed to automatically "push" the volume and year ahead to the next year because the catalog title and price listings were extracted in the late fall of the year in order to give clients the latest pricing updates (from the publishers) in the first quarter of the next calendar year. This year, we ran the extract tape in January, and the catalog production system then pushed volumes/years ahead to show 1993. The error was not detected before mailing.
If someone is using the 1992 catalog as a reference for ordering, renewing or cancelling subscriptions based on price, they are in fact seeing the most current publishers' list prices we have been given, though not the 1993 prices which will come from publishers during the second half of this year.
We deeply regret any problems the new catalog may have caused. Our goal is to provide our clients with the most up-to-date, useful, and accurate serials reference catalogs in the industry. We will continue to pursue this goal in every way possible.
We sincerely appreciate you and your reader advising us of the mistake and the potential for misinterpretation of rates and dates compatibility. We will do everything possible to inform all catalog users immediately.
Thank you for your help in this matter.
[My library received a letter of explanation from Jim Smith dated 18 June 1992. It came while I was at ALA (i.e., before July 1.]
NS36.3 _ROMANCE PHILOLOGY_ PRICE INCREASE
Sandra M. Whisler, Director, Journals Division, University of California Press, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have for several years been committed to keeping price increases below 10% annually, even when such a strategy affected a journal's financial health, because I was concerned about the impact on library budgets. For the most part, I have kept this commitment in my increases for 1993. However, there is one exception -- in response to dire necessity -- which I wanted to share with newsletter readers because it illuminates a problem which is more and more bringing pressures to bear on nonprofit journal publishers.
It is with great regret that I am announcing a substantial (36-37%) price increase for _Romance Philology_ subscribers for 1993:
Institutions $84 Individuals $37 Students $24I know that an increase of this magnitude will create real difficulties for both institutional and individual subscribers. I wish there were some other solution.
Unfortunately, our only choices were to increase the price drastically or to cease publication of the journal. This crisis was caused by the cancellation of long-standing support for editorial office expenses -- most importantly the salary for the assistant editor -- by the college at the University of California at Berkeley. The assistant editor handles a wide range of duties from trafficking and scheduling articles to substantive and copy editing of all manuscripts. It simply isn't possible to produce an on-schedule publication of the quality for which _Romance Philology_ is known without such a staff position. And because the journal's circulation -- reflecting its specialized appeal -- is modest, there is simply no financial margin from which to replace the college's funding (the Press has already been absorbing a modest annual deficit for several years for this journal). As a result, I am forced to increase the subscription rates enough to cover the assistant editor's salary.
The cancellation of support for _Romance Philology_'s editorial office, while triggered by the California state budget crisis, is only a single example of an increasing and alarming trend in which administrators on a wide range of campuses throughout the country are reducing or eliminating financial support -- direct and indirect -- for journal editorial offices. The longstanding support of journal publication -- in the form of release time for scholarly editors, subsidized office space or expenditures, computer equipment, or staff salaries -- has helped to keep the price of many scholarly journals affordable. The elimination of this support will inevitably drive subscription prices up at a rate substantially above inflation, as editors turn to publishers for the support necessary to continue publishing high quality journals.
The costs of publication will still be borne within the system of higher education. However, instead of appearing as lines in departmental budgets, these costs will appear as increased subscription prices in library budgets. This will only intensify the library budget crisis.
I am sorry to have contributed to that crisis with such a steep price increase. I am confident, however, that _Romance Philology_'s consistent high quality (in no small part the contribution of the assistant editor) will continue to offer your patrons good value for your subscription dollars, even at the increased price. Thank you for your understanding and for your continued support for _Romance Philology_.
NS36.4 THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS: A THIRD FACTOR IN NEGOTIATING SERVICE AND PRICING WITH SUBSCRIPTION AGENCIES
N. Bernard "Buzzy" Basch, Chicago IL
In the May 9 _Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues_ Rodney Goins and Chuck Hamaker identified two of the elements that determine the extent to which subscription agencies are willing to negotiate financial arrangements with libraries: the mix of titles -- the mix of publisher discounts an agency receives on a particular group of titles -- and the extent of any prepayment discount the agency offers libraries for the use of monies received in advance of the date on which the agency pays the publishers.
There is a third element: the agency's cost of doing business. This is the most variable factor. All agencies receive similar discounts from publishers and most offer prepayment discounts, but their costs of doing business can differ significantly. Variations in these costs reflect individual agency decisions on location, overhead, staffing structure, corporate culture, automation, research and development, etc. Typically, the cost of doing business is between two and ten percent of the cost of subscriptions handled.
The cost of doing business is, of course, independent of the mix of titles. The more effective an agency's internal operations, the lower its cost of doing business. The lower an agency's cost of doing business, the greater the room for negotiation.
The extent to which an agency is willing to yield that room in negotiation is influenced by a range of factors, including: the size of the account (which can be enhanced by a multi-year contract); the agency's profit objective -- be it a dollar amount or a percentage; its sales objectives -- for a specific market segment or a dollar volume of sales; the prestige of the target account; the strength of the competition from other agencies; and the negotiating skills of library personnel.
NS36.5 FROM THE MAILBOX
The mailbox is: TUTTLE@UNC.BITNET or Marcia_Tuttle@unc.edu.
>From Robert Stafford, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, ROBERTS@VAX7.cc.monash.edu.au:
Cindy Hepfer, in rightly congratulating the new publishers of _Drug Information Journal_ on their startling price reduction, asks whether this is evidence of light at the end of the tunnel. Well here is some further evidence of this most welcome enlightenment -- the Australian Behaviour Modification Association has transferred publication of their journal, _Behaviour Change_ to Australian Academic Press and the price has dropped from US$189 to US$75. The quality of the paper, covers etc. has, if anything improved, and yes the previous publisher was Pergamon. How can this be possible?
From: Susan Lewis, Penn State Press, SXL116@psuvm.psu.edu:
I really enjoyed the joint SSP/NASIG/AAUP session on "Marketing to Libraries: What Works?" in Chicago last week, and now understand how staff shortages make it difficult for librarians to sort through brochures advertising serials from scholarly publishers (the snapshots of the mailroom did it). Seems to me, however, that there is a solution that will satisfy the librarians' wish for a personalized approach without either commercial telemarketing or ecologically unsound direct-mail campaigns. Why not simply use the Internet? Publishers could e-mail serial information directly to the librarian responsible for making the purchasing decision, thus eliminating the mail-room scenario, the expense and waste of direct mail, and the time- consuming task of making personal phone calls (scholarly publishers are short on staff, too).
Of course, this would require compiling some sort of database of librarians' Bitnet numbers, and some might argue that the Internet shouldn't be used for "advertising." Consider, however, that you can delete messages from your e-mailbox without reading them, that you wouldn't have to reroute mail, and that Internet advertising is much more environmentally sound than direct mail.
Would anyone be interested in pursuing this?
>From Siegfried Ruschin, Linda Hall Library, NDAY@UMKCVAX1.BITNET:
Cindy Kaag's letter of protest to the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology, reprinted in Newsletter NS 35, merits, in my opinion, the full support of her colleagues. If we had protested much earlier in a similar way and had not meekly accepted for years virtually every price increase that came along, we may not find ourselves in the situation we are in today.
Cindy Kaag and other readers may be interested in a precedent for the sharp increase in the subscription price of the journal she refers to. In me, and surely in many other "old timers," her letter evoked a strong feeling of deja vu.
In 1979, the _Journal of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology_ cost $26.00 (if the very young in the profession can believe this!). In 1980, Pergamon took over the publication, and we were charged $57.05, an increase of 119%. In 1983, the society apparently reassumed direct responsibilities for the publication of the journal. The price slowly rose over the next few years, from $70.00 to $90.00. For 1991, the price jumped about $50, and now, with Elsevier publishing the journal, we see an even greater relative increase than that presented by Pergamon twelve years ago. Meanwhile, the size of the journal has not noticeably increased. I wonder how many of my colleagues' salaries or, for that matter, their libraries' budgets, have gone up 1250% in the past twelve years.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 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; Internet: Marcia_Tuttle@unc.edu; 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 and Blackwell's CONNECT. EBSCO and Readmore Academic customers may receive the Newsletter in paper format from these companies. Back issues of the Newsletter are available electronically free of charge through BITNET from the editor. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++