Sharp-eyed readers (and subscribers to SERIALST) will notice that this is the second e-mail issue of the pricing newsletter bearing the number 190. That's because I skipped no. 189. Because I consider the Web version of the newsletter to be the archival edition, I am correcting the numbering of the previous issue there and repeating no. 190 for this issue of the paper edition. If you retain paper or e-mail copies of the pricing newsletter, you may wish to correct the number of the previous issue.
190.2 AIP AND APS PREVAIL IN SUIT BY GORDON & BREACH
Press release submitted by Karin Heineman, American Institute of Physics, email@example.com
College Park, MD, August 28, 1997 ... The freedom to provide academic libraries with information about the cost of scholarly journals was upheld by a federal judge in New York in a decision issued on Tuesday, August 26.
Gordon & Breach Science Publishers S.A. (G&B) had claimed that the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and The American Physical Society (APS) would violate the Lanham Act by distributing to libraries certain information concerning the cost-effectiveness of physics journals. The court rejected all claims by G&B, stating that "[i]f G&B believes librarians will make more optimal decisions if they consider information other than that provided by the defendants, its solution is to augment rather than censor the available truthful information."
The suit involved a 1988 study by the late Henry H. Barschall, a physicist at the University of Wisconsin, and the distribution of the results of that study by AIP and APS. The Barschall Study showed that the physics journals published by AIP and APS were among the most cost-effective of all physics journals, as measured by cost per character and the frequency with which journals are cited. The study compared 200 physics journals.
At the same time, the Court observed, based on the data presented at trial, that "regardless of the measure used, G&B's journals consistently scored at the bottom" of a cost-effectiveness ranking. G&B brought suit to prevent dissemination of the results, claiming that the non-profit societies' efforts to publicize the study constituted false advertising. Judge Leonard B. Sand concluded, however, that "Barschall's methodology has been demonstrated to establish reliably precisely the proposition for which defendants cited it -- that defendants' physics journals, as measured by cost per character and by cost per character divided by impact factor, are substantially more cost- effective than those published by plaintiffs."
The Court noted that evidence submitted by the societies showed that G&B has engaged in an "aggressive corporate practice of challenging any adverse commentary upon its journals," citing threats and lawsuits against librarians, academics, and other non-profit societies. Judge Sand observed that "[t]his evidence persuasively demonstrated that the present suit is but one battle in a `global campaign by G&B to suppress all adverse comment on its journals.'"
Judge Sand's ruling, following a seven-day trial in June, marked the culmination of the American portion of litigation by G&B against the societies in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, and France. The societies prevailed at every level of the German court system and have recently prevailed in Switzerland in a suit that is now being appealed by G&B. A French trial court found for G&B under strict French comparative advertising laws, and that suit is now on appeal.
Judge Sand's decision was welcomed by the defendants. Dr. Marc H. Brodsky, Executive Director of AIP, stated that "AIP is pleased the Court agreed with the obvious -- more information, not censorship, is the appropriate way to address important issues, such as the escalation of journal prices for libraries." Dr. Thomas J. McIlrath, Treasurer of the APS, said that "The APS has always viewed itself to be in a partnership with libraries, and indeed other publishers, in the mission of promoting and disseminating the knowledge of physics. I am very pleased that the courts have recognized the legitimacy and integrity of what Professor Barschall and the Societies have done."
The case in the United States was initiated by G&B in 1993. AIP and APS have been defended by attorneys Richard Meserve and Jeffrey Huvelle of Covington & Burling, a major Washington law firm. Meserve, himself a physicist, said that "the two societies stood up to G&B's `global campaign' because of their commitment to the open exchange of ideas and information that is fundamental to scientific discovery."
For further information contact Marc Brodsky of AIP at 301-209-3131 or Thomas McIlrath of APS at 301-209-3220.
190.3 SENDING SPRINGER A MESSAGE
Cindy Hepfer, Health Sciences Library, SUNY Buffalo, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Health Sciences Library at the State University of New York at Buffalo has subscribed to Springer-Verlag's title International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health since 1980. A use study showed modest use of the title, but it survived two heavy rounds of cancellations in 1995 and 1996. In the fall of 1996, we paid our vendor $1,197 for the 1997 issues. This amount agrees with the price listed for this title in the Springer 1997 price list.
On August 13, we received notification from our subscription agent that some issues for an additional volume, v. 70 (1997), had already been sent out to all subscribers. They noted that the cost of the additional volume is $1,150 and said that if we decided to keep it, we would be billed accordingly. Alternatively, if we decided to return v. 70, they had to receive it by September 1st.
We had received both v. 70, no. 1 (cover date of July 1997) and v. 70, no. 2 (cover date of August 1997) on July 17 and July 30, respectively. Since new issues are routinely checked in the day of receipt, the two had long since been marked and tattle-taped. Ironically, the subscription information in both 70:1 and 70:2 says: "Volume 69 (6 issues) will appear in 1997." There is no mention in v. 70 that v. 70 is being published in 1997.
My initial reaction was to sigh and say "bill us." But I slept on it overnight and came in the next day feeling quite differently. I was angry to think that we paid $1,197 for six 1997 issues and are now being asked for another $1,150 to obtain the remainder of 1997. I spoke with our head of collection development about the situation, and we agreed that we would not pay for v. 70. Instead we are going to live with a gap in the run. Why? Because we need to send Springer-Verlag a message. What is that message? That librarians will not -- they cannot -- automatically approve mid-year price increases for unscheduled volumes, no matter how important it is to us under normal circumstances to have complete runs. Moreover, it should come as no surprise to the publisher to learn that a title that presents us with significant mid-year price increases is highly likely to end up on the "hit list" the next time another cancellation project is mounted.
I plan to return my already checked-in, marked and tattle-taped issues for 70:1 and 70:2 to our subscription agent. I even called Springer's customer service department in New York to confirm that they would accept the marked issues. It seems to me that I ought to be able to keep these issues, since they arrived unsolicited. But I figure that returning marked and tattle-taped issues will help to underscore the message I am attempting to send.
190.4 ENDOCRINE SOCIETY JOURNALS PRICE DECREASE
Cindy Hepfer, Health Sciences Library, SUNY Buffalo, email@example.com
A letter dated August 1997 to members of The Endocrine Society was forwarded to me by one of our faculty. It states:
The Endocrine Society is taking the unprecedented step to help academic libraries stem the tide of inflation in journal subscription rates. For 1998, the Society's journals will be offered to institutions at 5% less than the current rates. This rate decrease for 1998 is, so far as we know, unique.... In addition to the Society's innovative pricing strategy for its own journals, we are also publicizing this decision widely, in the hope that other non-profit publishers and commercial publishers will join us in taking proactive steps to battle the ever-spiraling costs of disseminating scientific information
The Endocrine Society's journals are high quality titles with high impact factors. Librarians, like faculty, should applaud this move! It is heartening to see a Society take such a positive step to enhance dissemination of the research and scholarship published in their journals.
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.
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