The other day a serials librarian told me that her library has made a decision not to pay extra for electronic versions of journals they already subscribe to in print.
At Duke's Chemistry Library I cancelled a number of reference titles to free money for Beilstein CrossFire Minerva. This effort was followed closely by 1) a library-wide cancellation to free money for new products, and 2) the compilation of a list of candidates to trade for any new subscriptions we want to place. So, the other library's decision not to spend money duplicating titles seemed a sensible one.
When electronic versions of journals first appeared, we decided to try to find the money for those that cost extra, just for the time being to see where this was all going. We paid for only a few things, like _Journal of Biological Chemistry_; most were free for that first tantalizing year. Now it is clear that the freebies are going away in favor of added cost. This practice tempts us to add second copies of journals we already own rather than getting new titles. Obvious, easy to defend; but it really isn't so clear cut when you stop to think about the emerging situation.
_Journal of Biological Chemistry_ has a clear added value in the online version, and I really want to be able to offer this to my chemists. For this title it is easy because there are still 2 subscriptions on campus and we can keep one in print and one electronic.
The case of the American Chemical Society journals is not so easy. ACS started out offering two of their most important, and biggest, titles on quarterly CDs. Individuals could get these very cheaply and those who did, liked this format very much. Libraries were not so quick to subscribe, since a standalone station with a single user added $695 to an already hefty print price. Besides, quarterly updates just didn't suffice for a weekly publication in the library. Recently ACS has introduced Web versions of three other titles. PDF formatting allows a user to print (with little trouble given a properly configured computer) an article that looks just like the print journal. Until 1997 these three titles are free -- just enough time to get people hooked on the ease of access. ACS is now working out a new pricing scheme that will include one online user in one internet subnet address to all institutional print subscribers for no additional charge. We have to keep the print journals, because that is still the patrons' preferred format for these very important titles. At Duke, Chemistry is on one subnet so the entire Department will have access online; other users will access in the Chemistry Library. However, other institutions may have many subnets for one location, and they have told ACS in no uncertain terms that this is a BAD idea.
Then there are the titles that are only online (or started out that way) like _Journal of Molecular Modeling_. Easy choice; if the subject matter is of interest, it is a unique title and falls within the no-duplicate policy. But, now there is an annual CD for this title with a print archive promised. Each added format costs a little more, voila: added copies, something no longer within the guidelines.
For many titles, just a print copy is sufficient. But others are, or have the potential to be, used in both formats. Is it more important to provide both points of access rather than print access to additional, little-used titles? I think yes. It then becomes a matter of choosing something to give up for this new access just as one would for a new title.
Recent additions to the picture are special services such as BioMedNet that still give free access to some journals for which you have print subscriptions. The library or individual subscriber, however, must pay a membership fee. There are added value features like enhanced hotlinks to related articles for some of the fulltext journals, a jobbank, chat rooms, and a shopping mall; but it isn't yet clear if patrons really want all these things. BioMedNet has a free introductory deal for libraries that lasts only 3 months. Since we got our entrance code several weeks ago, the journal list has grown substantially. However, each PDF article from these new titles will cost a user regardless of whether the library holds the print. EI's Engineering Village is a similar service, with the addition of access to EI Compendex Plus in Web version. The folks who brought us BioMedNet are in the process of putting up ChemNet to further muddy the water. How many of these services is it practical to get? How will the different disciplines use them? Should the periodicals budget pay for something that isn't strictly a periodical? To make good decisions we need experience, something that will cost money.
Looking at the changes that have taken place in the past year, it appears highly probable that there will be even more changes in the next. A seemingly easy decision suddenly is anything but.
167.2 1997 SUBSCRIPTION RATES FOR _JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY_ (JBC)
Barbara Schader, UCLA Biomedical library, email@example.com.
The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) announced their 1997 rates for the print and online versions of JBC. The comparison rates are:
1996 1997 % increase INSTITUTIONAL RATES Print Only $1150 $1400 17% Online Only $ 200 $1100 475% Print/Online $1350 $2500 85%The increase in the print version at 17% seems a bit high, but then JBC is a prolific journal. The 475% increase for the electronic version appears astronomical, but the 1996 pricing was basically an "introductory offer." It will be important to watch pricing for 1998. However, regardless of how one justifies the figures, this is still an 85% increase in one year! At UCLA, we have 2 print subscriptions (in two separate libraries) and one electronic subscription. In 1996, the print subscriptions had over 2,500 circulation and inhouse uses. We do not feel we can cancel our print subscriptions, but we also want the electronic version, as faculty love it! (I think in time the use of the print copies will diminish, and more individuals will be optimally electronically connected, so we will be able eventually to cancel one or both print copies. However, for the near term, we will continue to subscribe to print and electronic versions since we still have a substantial number of faculty and students who do not have any easy access to high end microcomputers and printers and the internet.
If any of you have looked at the JBC website announcing the 1997 subscription prices (http://www-jbc.stanford.edu/jbc/home/sub/cost.shtml#1997), you see that ASBMB bases the print subscription increase "entirely (on) increased cost of producing the Journal." The institutional online cost is touted as quite a bargain for a "site license" and for the added values of search capabilities, links to MEDLINE and other data sources. Finally ASBMB urges institutions to drop their print copies when possible in favor of the electronic version.
ASBMB also states they are committed to providing an archive product. No details are given on how this will be done.
I contacted ASBMB to see if they would offer any price break since UCLA will continue to subscribe to both print subscriptions plus the online subscription. The answer was NO.
1. Archiving - who should archive?
* Individual Libraries: for articles which are older than a specified number of years. What are the workload and legal implications of being the archiver -- interlibrary loans, copyright compliance, etc.? Will publishers be willing to partner with certain libraries to do this? And would they be willing to offer the annual subscription(s) at a reduced rate in order to advertise archiving with library X.
* National Libraries: again, the same set of workload and legal implications. Would publishers be more willing to cooperate with a national library?
* Commercial, 3rd Party Vendors (e.g., OCLC or journal vendors such as Blackwell, EBSCO, etc): would publishers contract with vendors for archiving as they have contracted with them for subscriptions?
* Publishers: will electronic formats provide a more economical method of archiving than print formats and therefore, would publishers now be willing to archive? (Keep in mind these are the same companies that tell you 2 months after a missed issue that it is out of print!)
* Copyright Clearance Center: is this another responsibility we would recommend for the CCC? Would publishers be more comfortable contracting with the CCC? Would this necessarily be in the best interests of librarians and libraries?
Regardless of who becomes the archiver, how will articles from archival issues be priced?
2. Cost Factors.
* what expenses are incurred by electronic versions of journals which are not incurred by print, and vice versa?
* what percentage of the print version is appropriate for the electronic version? JBC is pricing their electronic version at 85% of the print. The UC Guidelines for Electronic Resource Licensing suggests 80% as the ratio of electronic to print. Some preprint publishers are arguing that it can be done for about 30%.
* should user subscriptions subsidize costs of publishers switching to electronic formats from print in addition to actual costs for producing an issue?
* what is an acceptable profit margin for print subscriptions? for electronic subscriptions? Should this profit margin continue when specific titles are being cancelled by many libraries?
3. Dual Subscriptions (print and electronic).
* in the near term, institutions which do not have moderately high computing capabilities but are moving towards improved computing by upgrading microcomputers, internet connections, printers capable of accessing image intensive files, are at a disadvantage and must subscribe to print in order not to disenfranchise researchers without such equipment. But we must also subscribe to the electronic version for those faculty and graduate students who have high end equipment and need the versatility of the electronic version.
I would be interested in hearing what other institutions plan to do with their JBC subscription and what your thoughts are in general regarding archiving, pricing of electronic journals, and dual print and electronic subscriptions.
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