It was 8 years ago today that our first issue appeared. What's going on? The "serials crisis" was supposed to be long over with by now. But we just keep going, and going, and . . ..
173.2 STRANGE CODING IN RECENT NEWSLETTERS
Marcia Tuttle, email@example.com
Thanks to four subscribers, Irene Kan, Birdie MacLennan, Stuart Moss, and Helen Witsenhausen, who agreed to serve as test sites, I believe we have resolved the problem of the strange codes that some readers were finding in their listserver-supplied copies of the pricing newsletter. Please let me know if they still appear.
173.3 1997 SUBSCRIPTION HISTORICAL PRICE ANALYSIS, PRELIMINARY PRICE PROJECTIONS FOR 1998 SUBSCRIPTIONS
Mid-February 1997 press release from EBSCO Subscription Services (Thomas J. Mitchell, 205 991-1368).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., USA - Subscription prices for 1997 increased by 10 to 12 percent on an average over 1996 subscription rates.
In 1997, [Association of Research Libraries members] experienced an average price increase of 10.7 percent; college and university libraries, an average increase of 10.1 percent; and academic medical libraries, an average increase of 11.9 percent. These figures are based on a weighted average of the actual ordering patterns of a significant number of representative libraries purchasing in U.S. dollars and purchasing both U.S. and non-U.S. titles.
[EBSCO will continue to update price projections based on communications from publishers and changes in currency markets which affect journal prices.]
EBSCO is currently projecting a price increase for 1998 subscriptions of 10 to 11 percent for U.S. journals and 9 to 10 percent for non-U.S. journals. These projections are based on historical price increase data, preliminary information received from publishers and the current relative value of the U.S. dollar compared to major European currencies.
Ultimate price increases for non-U.S. journals will depend on the value of the currency in which subscribers are invoiced as compared to the currency of the publisher. The U.S. dollar is currently 4 percent weaker against the British pound as compared to late summer 1996 when many British publishers set 1997 U.S. dollar selling prices. The dollar is 2 percent weaker against the pound as compared to fall 1996 when most customers were invoiced for 1997 subscriptions and prices set in non-U.S. currencies would have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Conversely, the dollar has strengthened considerably against other major European currencies over the last several months. For instance, the dollar is approximately 11 percent stronger against both the German mark and the Dutch guilder when compared to late summer 1996.
Based on the current strength of the dollar in relation to major European currencies, it would be reasonable for EBSCO to project price increases for non-U.S. journals below our current estimate of 9 to 11 percent. However, due to the uncertainty of currency exchange rates, (i.e., the G-7 Group of Seven Leaders is discussing measures to try to reverse the dollar's rise in value in relation to European currencies) we are hesitant to make such an aggressive projection at this time.
In addition to currency exchange, the accelerating emergence of electronic journals will most likely impact 1998 journal price increases. The prospect of electronic journals appears to have caused some uncertainty with regard to the traditional pricesetting processes of publishers. We believe this uncertainty impacted price increases for some 1997 journals as a few publishers' price increases were higher than initially communicated to EBSCO.
The effect of continuing serial cancellations on price increases also should not be understated. As total circulation falls, publishers increase subscription rates to replace revenue lost due to cancellations. In addition to currency exchange rates, cancellations and the prospect of electronic journals, other factors affecting journal prices include: page increases, volume expansion and basic inflation.
As always, EBSCO recommends all customers add 2 to 5 percent to the estimated price increases for non-domestic journals to protect their budgets from a weakening of the currency in which they are invoiced between now and when subscription rates are paid.
173.4 EFFECT OF EUROPEAN MONETARY UNION ON SERIALS PRICING
Frank Norman, National Institute for Medical Research (London), firstname.lastname@example.org; Bernard Naylor, University of Southampton, email@example.com.
[These two messages were posted on lis-serials on January 31, 1997 and are reposted here with the permission of their authors. -ed.]
From Frank Norman:
What effect can we expect European Monetary Union to have on serials pricing and the serials industry? I understand that the business and finance communities are studying how their operations will be affected and planning for the day that some form of monetary union takes place. UK companies will be affected whether or not the UK participates in EMU. If (e.g.) German, French and Dutch publishers start issuing prices in EMU will UK publishers follow suit? Will it affect the location of publishing houses as currency risk diminishes? Will prices become more stable? I'd be very interested to learn whether any views or research on
these issues has been published.
From Bernard Naylor:
Publishers are already free to price their products in non-UK currencies if they wish, and it is not unknown for UK publishers to quote Deutschmark prices to UK customers because the Deutschmark is seen as having a more stable value than the pound sterling.
If the Euro becomes successfully established, it will presumably acquire a value on the international currency markets and certainly all the indicators to date are that an emphasis will be placed on stability and minimum value fluctuation. I assume that is the message of the severe deflationary policies currently being followed in so many EU countries in this period running up to the possible adoption of the single currency.
My understanding is that any country which decides to adhere to the single currency will implicitly have decided on abandoning its own currency. Hence there is almost no room for doubt. For example, if Germany adopts the Euro, I do not see how their publishers can possibly avoid quoting prices in that currency, except by quoting in (say) US dollars and pounds sterling instead. And it seems inconceivable to me that the German or Dutch economic and business community will adopt the Euro in preference to their own currency and then opt out of using it, and quoting their prices in it.
Adoption of the Euro ought to have a positive effect on costs, once the not insignificant costs of the change-over have been absorbed, because the current expense of exchanging currencies (even in purely paper transactions) will be avoided. There are also grounds for arguing that the fluctuations in currency values have an interim adverse effect on libraries' purchasing which feeds through. For example, when the pound collapsed out of the ERM, there was a serious adverse effect for UK libraries. This resulted in cancellations which adversely affected the cash-flow positions of publishers and were a further contributory factor to price increases. At present, by contrast, sterling is riding high; but has anyone heard of UK libraries taking out new subscriptions on account of that? A similar process, tightening the downward ratchet, has occurred in the United States in recent years with the slide of the dollar on world currency markets.
If there were only one currency for the whole world, this problem would disappear, I suppose -- but I can think of quite a few different ones that would then arise. I leave it to someone else to provide a much better little seminar than I could on the downside effects of adherence to the gold standard, which is the best example I can think of of a world-wide single currency.
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 Academic and Networking Technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as news is available. Editor: Marcia Tuttle, Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org; Paper mail: Serials Department, CB #3938 Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27515-8890; Telephone: 919 962-8047; FAX: 919 962-4450. Editorial Board: Deana Astle (Clemson University), Christian Boissonnas (Cornell University), Jerry Curtis (Springer Verlag New York), Isabel Czech (Institute for Scientific Information), 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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