Housekeeping matters this time. The newsletter schedule has been very skimpy for the last several months because of my own schedule and work load. Also, recently, because of lack of contributions from subscribers (there may be a relationship there). A lot of "stuff" is off my desk now, summer's over, and school has started. I need your help to get back on a more frequent publication schedule. Send messages!
I have been seriously remiss in not forwarding before now this message of January 17, 1996, from Laurent Guillope of the Department de Mathematiques, Universite de Nantes:
With the installation of the Issue 152 of the NSPI on our server, I think it's the occasion to announce that the MathDoc NSPI's mirror is now public: http://www-mathdoc.ujf-grenoble.fr/NSPI/NSPI.html It has a similar structure to the one on http://www.lib.unc.edu/prices/prices.html, with the additional features: * entry pages in french and english, * anchors under every URL (mailto, http,...) in the full text, * search on words in the full index. Perhaps it is interesting to announce this server for the european subscribers in the final part of the letter?
And I have added this site to the disclaimer at the end of each issue.
Some of you may remember that last February I did a survey of the newsletter's subscribers to determine your wishes regarding the inclusion of press releases, new journal announcements, and other promotional messages. I asked 7 questions:
Should the pricing newsletter include the following announcements: 1. New electronic journals? 2. New electronic format for existing print journals? 3. New World Wide Web sites containing full-text journals? 4. Publishers/vendors multi-title online products? 5. Partnerships among publishers/libraries/ universities/vendors offering more than one publisher's electronic journals? 6. Enhancements to existing electronic products? 7. Occasional special issues composed entirely of these announcements and press releases?
Overwhelmingly, librarians did not want to see these materials, and publishers and subscription agents wanted them included. Of 125 responses, 40 librarians and 1 publisher answered "no" to all questions. The top questions got the most "no" responses, and there were a lot of "maybe" answers to the final questions. Librarian respondents far outnumbered the others, so I have without exception declined to include promotional messages since the survey. It hasn't always been easy to reject an announcement about an innovative project, and some press releases deserve wide distribution. But the newsletter has a policy now. As always, thank you for your responses, especially your comments.
Would anyone be inconvenienced if I deleted the archive of the newsletter that is on the list processor (email@example.com) at UNC? We have had some trouble and inconsistencies lately (under the new, improved system!) and there are some holes. If anyone still needs to use that archive instead of the editor's World Wide Web site at http://www.lib.unc.edu/prices/ prices.html (or the site at Nantes), please let me know and I will try again to fill in the holes. But if the Web is sufficient, I will delete the list processor archive. I will decide in about one week.
164.2 _JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY_ ONLINE PRICING
Toni Powell, University of Kentucky, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Received May 22, 1996.]
Recently we were notified by Academic Press that the _Journal of Molecular Biology_ had an online version at no additional charge in the subscription price. This seemed like a good deal until I looked at the contract we were required to sign. The access is limited by IP numbers and the contract states "...do not include any IP addresses through which non-authorized users or members of the general public have access to your institution's computing facilities." As we are a land grant institution, our library and micro computing facilities are open to anyone in the Commonwealth.
These people generally are not looking for _Journal of Molecular Biology_ but it does disenfranchise our upper level undergraduate students who depend on the library and labs for computer access. I find this clause unacceptable and I have written to Academic Press with my concerns.
164.3 'SUCK IT AND SEE' PRICING
Steve Hitchcock, University of Southampton Open Journal Project, S.Hitchcock@ecs.soton.ac.uk
In 163.2 John Cox, inadvertently I suspect, provides an insight into publisher pricing in his comments on institutional vs personal journals prices:
>Most publishers then set a rate that recognised the difference >between access by one individual personally, and the unlimited >access afforded by the library subscription.Forget the price ratio analyses and the myriad assumptions, would anyone be surprised to learn that this is about as scientific as it gets? The same holds for most other industries, not just publishing: pricing is largely a matter of 'suck it and see.' The real point is that what publishers of STM journals have seen, for some time -- a decade at least -- is that those journals which contributors to this newsletter might regard as expensive, have often been undervalued rather than overvalued. Prices rise as publishers seek maximum value, i.e. profit, from their products. The value of journals to consumers is determined not by library purchasers or readers but principally by academics acting as authors. Simply, these two parties have over this period reached the same conclusion about valuations and the market has proved quite sustainable commercially on this basis.
The problem, though, is obvious. Journal prices will never go backwards. What will happen if authors and publishers suddenly discover that journals are overvalued? Any piece of elastic has its breaking point.
John Cox goes on to say:
>Most learned journal publishers consider that the >foundation of their business is the library subscription base, >both because it is relatively stable and because it represents >_the best way of providing widespread access to the published >papers; that is, after all, what authors and editors want_.Does this comment indicate any understanding of the implications of Web publishing? If it ever becomes the case that authors and editors want widespread access, as John Cox suggests, then the paper journal, and possibly the current system of library subscriptions as well, will be finished. In fact, what authors and editors want is publication, i.e. recognition. It is not apparent that this is about to change, unless this is the point at which the elastic is finally about to break.
The issue is value, subjectively not objectively, and the new element is network publishing. Unfortunately, when a market changes this dramatically, 'suck it and see' pricing is wholly inadequate, but in the short term there is no other way. The market will thus become highly volatile until value is reassessed in this new environment.
Statements of fact and opinion appearing in the _Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues_ are made on the responsibility of the authors alone, and do not imply the endorsement of the editor, the editorial board, or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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 through the Office of Information Technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as news is available. Editor: Marcia Tuttle, Internet: email@example.com; Paper mail: Serials Department, CB #3938 Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27515-8890; Telephone: 919 962-1067; FAX: 919 962-4450. Editorial Board: Deana Astle (Clemson University), Christian Boissonnas (Cornell University), Jerry Curtis (Springer Verlag New York), Janet Fisher (MIT Press), Fred Friend (University College, London), Charles Hamaker (Louisiana State University), Daniel Jones (University of Texas Health Science Center), Michael Markwith (Swets North America), James Mouw (University of Chicago), and Heather Steele (Blackwell's Periodicals Division). The Newsletter is available on the Internet, Blackwell's CONNECT, and Readmore's ROSS. EBSCO customers may receive the Newsletter in paper format.
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