193.1 RATIONALE FOR AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY WEB JOURNAL PRICES
Anthony Durniak, American Chemical Society, email@example.com
Last week, at the American Chemical Society's Fall National Meeting in Las Vegas, the ACS Publications Division announced that all 26 of its journals are now available on the World Wide Net. At the same time, it announced prices for Web editions for 1998. Details can be found at the ACS Publications Web site: http://pubs.acs.org, under the heading "About Web Editions."
Such innovations from the ACS and other publishers naturally stimulate discussions among ACS members and librarians about appropriate pricing for online journals. We recognize that the subject is complicated for scientists, librarians, and publishers. For this reason, we want to provide the following explanation of the rationale for our prices and the challenges facing us as we make the transition to full-scale, electronic delivery of journals. We hope that an open exchange with our partners in the academic and industrial communities will deepen understanding for all of us and foster even closer cooperation in developing successful approaches to making journals accessible on the Web.
A fundamental principle is our belief that the Web editions of our journals are far more valuable than their print counterparts. True, electronic journals don't incur the costs of printing and mailing, but we are investing a comparable sum -- in some cases even more -- to develop and produce feature-rich electronic editions. Among these features are the following:
o Powerful search software that makes it easy to find articles by author and key word;
o Additional information not found in print, e.g., electronic data from authors including interactive molecular models, animations, and extensive files of supporting information;
o Links to related information so readers can follow a thread of research. Examples include hypertext links to the Protein Data Bank and GenBank and links to bibliographic databases such as Medline's PubMed service and the new ChemPort service from our colleagues at Chemical Abstracts;
o Rapid publication in advance of print with our new Articles ASAP (As Soon As Publishable) which, starting in January 1998, will post peer-reviewed and completely edited articles to the Web up to 11 weeks before they'll appear in print.
o A choice of display formats. We offer both interactive HTML for rapid Web transmission and viewing on the screen as well as page images in Adobe's PDF format, which is ideal for printing.
At the same time, we believe that delivering journals over the Web provides scientists and librarians with important benefits to help them improve their use of the journals while controlling library operating costs.
o More extensive and rapid access for library patrons. Waiting for a printed journal to be routed or making trips to the library to retrieve a copy of an article becomes unnecessary. An electronic edition can be available to all of a library's patrons simultaneously at the instant an issue is released (depending, of course, on the subscription option chosen).
o Access to multiple years of information. Each of our journal subscriptions in 1998 includes access to all the material published since January 1996, and this archive will grow.
o Reduced cost of maintenance. The electronic edition's archive takes up no shelf space, does not require staff to check in new issues or re-shelve used issues, does not require binding, and is available to patrons even if the library is closed.
o Easy installation. The electronic journals work with standard Web browsers and helper applications such as Adobe's Acrobat -- no special software or hardware needs to be installed on the users' machines.
Because of these features, we believe that electronic journals will dramatically change subscription patterns by our customers. We expect that as libraries make journals available to their organizations over the Web, many ACS members will cancel their personal print subscriptions. Also, we expect large organizations that still buy multiple print subscriptions will eliminate duplication within the university or corporation. This consolidation may take time since the duplicate subscriptions are often ordered by departments separate from the library, but we believe it will happen. Indeed, it is already occurring in academia as institutions join consortia to coordinate their journal subscriptions, not only within one organization, but between separate organizations in the same city or state.
Our pricing must take all these factors into account. No member dues go towards the ACS journals. The journals must not only sustain themselves financially but also yield enough surplus to fund the development of new journals and new technologies. Therefore, we must establish prices that allow us to generate sufficient revenue, despite the changing subscription patterns likely to be caused by the electronic journals.
At the same time, we want our prices to provide flexibility to customers. Rather than simply charge a flat percentage in addition to print, we've taken a more creative (albeit more complicated) approach. Small institutions can purchase access for just the departments that will use the journal by registering the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the Class C Subnets serving those departments. Larger institutions that need to register more than 10 subnets will find it more economical to purchase the site license, which provides unlimited access to anyone in the organization within 5 miles of the library. In addition, libraries can buy only the titles they need -- they don't have to take our entire package of electronic journals. And they can take the electronic edition by itself or in combination with print. As always, ACS members can subscribe for their personal use.
What does this mean in real dollars and cents? To give you an overview of our prices, let me list the major categories below:
o Basic Web-only library subscription for a Class-C Subnet costs 5% more than a library print subscription. Additional Class-C Subnets can be registered for a small fee.
o The lowest price a library customer can pay to get both print and the first Web access for one Class-C Subnet is 20% more than print.
o Web-only site license for an entire location is 65% more than a library print subscription.
o The highest price a library would pay to provide access to an entire site and still receive print is equal to 90% more than the base print price. This means an entire site can have access for less than the cost of one additional print subscription.
o ACS members can subscribe to a Web journal for 15% more than print. Access is provided to a single User ID and Password. The most an ACS member will pay to receive both print and Web access is about 50% more than print alone.
To illustrate our approach specifically, here are the 1998 prices for the Journal of the American Chemical Society:
Member Prices, 1998
JACS Print Subscription $129
JACS Web Subscription $148
JACS Print + Web $189
Institutional Prices, 1998
JACS Print Subscription $1,865
JACS Web-Only with 1 Class C $1,958
JACS Print + 1 Class C Web $2,238
Each additional Class C $187
JACS Web Site License $3,091
JACS Print + Web Site License $3,525
Because the print prices for our journals are so low compared to those charged by most other publishers, the absolute dollars a customer will pay extra for the electronic edition will be quite competitive; a straight comparison by percentages can be misleading.
We are making the 20 newest Web journals available free to everyone from September 1997 to the end of the year. We hope that once our customers try them, they'll appreciate the value that they provide. In the spirit of cooperation to support the cost-effective and enhanced publication of research information, we look forward to hearing from our customers and members about our Web journals. This emerging environment of electronic publishing is highly dynamic, and we are eager to explore options and models with everyone who has a stake in making this endeavor as useful and successful as possible.
For fastest response, we ask that comments be sent to our Web edition staff at: Pubwebmaster@acsinfo.acs.org.
193.2 FROM THE MAILBOX
The mailbox is: firstname.lastname@example.org
From John Wilkins, Department of Physics, Ohio State University, email@example.com:
I was a co-editor of one of the G&B journals (Comments on Condensed Matter Physics) from 1985-91. I discovered through one of my authors that SCI did not do statistics on that G&B journal. My memory is shaky, but I seem to remember that G&B would not supply copies of its journals to SCI. From the online version of INSPEC I can find references to two of the Comments journals back to 1993.
In any case, the fact that Comments articles could not be found in many of the standard indexing services caused me to resign. It always struck me that not being able to find the articles was worse than no impact ratio.
From Dana Roth, Caltech, firstname.lastname@example.org:
The latest NY Times Travel Section gives this week's Dutch Guilder quote as 1.87 for 1$ and the quote for last year at this time was 1.53 for 1$. This is a 22% increase in the buying power of the US $$ in Holland. Does Elsevier have any comment about how this will affect the 1998 subscription prices??
From Laurent Guillope, Universite de Nantes, email@example.com:
Recently, we have included an author index on the presentation of the NSPI in Grenoble; this index is updated every time a new issue is installed and begins by the institutions, with the individuals after.
This author index is another way to browse the global NSPI collection by looking at all the contributors, volunteer or not; a click on any entry of the index gives you all the titles of articles where this key word appears. This anchor permits also to have all entries for the same last name (useful when the first names are spelled with variations). Examples are Gordon & Breach and the late Barschall.
From Fred Friend, University College London, firstname.lastname@example.org :
As I am shortly to move to another office, I have been turning out all the files, which have been gathering dust, including some left by my predecessor. Amongst them I found a two-page document recording a meeting in 1960 between representatives of the Library Association in the UK and Captain I.R.Maxwell of Pergamon Press. The Captain Maxwell referred to is the man we knew as Robert Maxwell, who made his fortune from the publication of scientific periodicals and who was drowned falling from his yacht. The meeting was held to enable the library representatives to protest about the high prices charged to libraries for Pergamon Press titles. Robert Maxwell's replies to the librarians' questions are recorded in some detail and I have to admit come across as being very plausible. I imagine the librarians present must have come away feeling that they had made their point but that nothing had been achieved: Pergamon Press would carry on as before. In our generation we know the feeling!
Over the years I have come across other references in our papers at University College London to the rise in price of periodicals, including one over 100 years ago. Sometime I must write a short article on the history of journal price rises. If anybody has any historical information, I would be glad to hear of it.
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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: email@example.com; Paper mail: 215 Flemington Road, Chapel Hill NC 27514-5637; Telephone: 919 929-3513. 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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