Another "favourite" publisher, with price increases that even put G&B to shame. I wonder whether other libraries have had similar experiences with other MCB titles during the last two years. Ours is with the International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow (HFF). When we began subscribing in 1996, it was priced at GBP 450 + VAT; for this year we paid GBP 699 + VAT, and the price for 1998 will be GBP 939 + VAT (as I was just told by MCB's customer services department).
Can anyone explain how on earth MCB might justify a price increase by more than a factor of 2 (109%) in just 2 years? HFF went electronic in 1997. Access (via Emerald (MCB's "Electronic Library")) is cumbersome (in the beginning, you even had to fill out a long online-questionnaire before getting even a glimpse of their site, and quite a lot of links went nowhere and sometimes ended at the wrong TOC pages). I anticipate that MCB might say that these are temporary problems in the startup phase of the electronic journals service which will be overcome soon. However, MCB is the first and only publisher I know who charges (heavily!) for their customers to act essentially as a Beta-Tester for their bold venture into electronic publishing.
Time for some quotes: In June 1997, we received a letter from Emerald, addressed to "Dear Business Librarian" (sorry but we are Academic Librarians here, and, alas, not able to simply pass on our costs of operation to our clients from the faculty). "You may ask 'why should I log on?' Well, there is nothing more to pay (...) there are no hidden costs!" we were told. "A key part of my role," the salesman told us in his letter, "is to ensure that you squeeze the maximum possible value for money out of your subscription -- you don't need me to tell you that subscribing to journals is not a decision you take lightly." Indeed, it is not. This year we had to cut about 20 to 25% of our serials expenditures. But... No hidden costs? They must be kidding! (Who is squeezing whom or what?) The figures given above speak another language.
A price increase by a factor of 2.1 in two years means that we are forced to look twice at what we get for our money. So let's look for the "added value": For 1997, HFF has been announced with "Extra Pagination: *" ... and, as they tell their subscribers, an asterisk "indicates that pagination has increased by up to 30%."
Great! The reality is this: Based on the first half on the year the number of pages seems to have increased by about 12%. I say "it seems" because at the same time they have switched over to a larger font and the printed width of the page has decreased, giving a combined effect of a 25% reduction in characters per page. So in reality MCB is publishing 13% less than before. In fact, the number of articles published in this journal has gone down by approximately 20%, based on the first half of 1997.
HFF has been announced with "Internet Continuous Publishing." As they tell their subscribers, this means that "MCB has included continuous publishing via the internet in a number of titles and this allows each title's content to be updated on a much more frequent basis than the print version. The Internet sites of each journal will be updated on a monthly basis (...) Articles may be viewed either on an 'issue' basis or retrieved by author, subject or posting date."
The reality is this: Vol. 7 issue 4 arrived here on June 7, 1997. On June 20, when I wrote a letter to MCB that never got answered, the full text of that issue was still not available on Emerald. I never spotted an article that had not yet appeared in print. Not even forthcoming contents pages are provided.
HFF has been announced with "Limited Internet Archive," meaning that "... the archive will contain abstracts and page images of the articles published in 1994, 1995 and 1996 volumes." The Archive now contains abstracts from these years but NO page images. It is not clear to us whether the document delivery option offered by MCB is free for the library (i.e., included in the journal's subscription) or not (I got no answer upon my query).
At present, MCB Electronic Journals (at least HFF) seem to be little more than electronic delivery of paper journals. I didn't spot added value features like links to references, lists of citations to the article, links to entries from A&I services, or other supplementary material (apart from the Internet Conferences "sponsored" by the journal which are however not yet available for HFF). Since we ask ourselves why we should spend money for services and added value promised but not delivered, HFF is high on our list of possible cancellations. This doesn't mean that there aren't interesting sites at MCB; e.g., I appreciate much of the material offered in the Internet Free Press, Internet Research and Library Link Forums.
P.S.: As I learned from Faxon's Survey of "Selected Publisher Price Increases in US Dollars, 1991-1995, MCB University Press had the highest overall price increase per year, amounting to 31.5% (per year!). Astonishing! (Seems to be quite a stable trend, judging from the figures quoted above for HFF.)
195.2 BARSCHALL WORLD WIDE WEB SITE
Michael A. Keller, Stanford University, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Ann Okerson, Yale University, email@example.com
[Received October 17, 1997.]
The case of Gordon & Breach v. American Institute of Physics and American Physical Society is of wide interest to those who care about the creation and diffusion of scientific journals. In its assertions, arguments, and counterarguments can be found a microcosm of all the issues that plague scientists, librarians, and information producers at the end of this millennium. It is a rich trove of primary information provided for members of the academic and legal communities and the citizenry who are interested in the values and diffusion of scientific and scholarly communications against the backdrop of the 20th-century marketplace.
The addresses of the web sites containing the entire texts of the decisions of Judge Leonard B. Sand of the U.S. Second District Court and the entire testimony of the witnesses at the trial before Judge Sand, and the original articles written by Dr. Barschall, along with links to some related sites are [site defunct].The materials on these sites are from publicly available sources, including documents of the courts involved in the referenced legal actions. The materials are presented in the interests of informing the public discourse on the actions and related matters. We fully expect to add more materials from the U.S. trial and materials from the European trials as well.
The sites are named to honor the memory of Henry Barschall, the distinguished physicist who conducted the research and reported the results of his research on the costs and impact factors of the journal literature in physics. The decisions of Judge Sand in the U.S. Second District Court and of two of the three European courts in which he, the American Institute of Physics, and the American Physical Society were sued by Gordon & Breach have supported his studies. Among others, the Association of Research Libraries honored him with a special citation, representing formally the admiration and respect he had earned from the global communities of research librarians and scientists.
We invite your use of these materials and we request wide distribution of the announcement of the availability of the documentation of these cases.
195.3 EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
Richard Gedye, Oxford University Press, firstname.lastname@example.org
[Posted on SERIALST October 13, 1997.]
European Journal of International Law
Oxford University Press would like to draw your attention to the fact that as of 1998 we will be publishing this journal. However, the current publishers have not forwarded lists of current subscribers to us. Therefore, to ensure continuity of your subscription, please contact us as soon as possible:
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