Word has reached the Newsletter that John Merriman is retiring -- again! This time he leaves the part-time position of Secretary of the Association of Subscription Agents at the end of March. I feel certain that I can speak again for all of us involved with serials and wish John and Ina all the best in the future. By the way, persons interested in succeeding John in this position may contact the association's president, Peter Lawson at email@example.com.
197.2 ACS ADDS NEW PRICE OPTION FOR WEB JOURNALS
Anthony Durniak, American Chemical Society, firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the American Chemical Society's Publications Division introduced the Web editions of its 26 scientific journals in September we have received much feedback from ACS members and librarians about the products and their prices. The comments about the functions and features of the Web journals have been universally positive. The only negative feedback concerns the pricing and subscription terms for the electronic versions. These complaints about the additional amount charged for a site license and how the site is defined are especially serious for large institutions. To respond to these concerns, ACS Publications is announcing an alternative price plan for its Web journals that certain customers may find more affordable.
"We're investing a tremendous amount to deliver journals with advanced Web features that go far beyond the PDF replicas of the printed page being provided by many other publishers," says Robert D. Bovenschulte, Director of the ACS Publications Division. "We're working equally hard to develop prices and subscription terms that meet the various needs of our customers. Our original prices acknowledged the fact that in an electronic world one price doesn't fit all customers. Now, Subscription Option B will provide our library customers with another attractive alternative."
The new plan, called "Subscription Option B: Web With All Current Subscriptions," offers another choice for institutions that want Web while keeping their hardcopy media. Institutions that commit to keeping all their current subscriptions can obtain an organization-wide license for 25% more than the 1998 prices of their current print holdings of the titles that are available in Web editions. Large organizations can include multiple locations in this license by supplying the name and address of all participating locations and agreeing to pay 25% more than the print prices of all current print subscriptions to titles that are available as Web editions at those locations. In return, all participating locations will have access to the Web edition of any ACS journal title covered by the organization's Option B license. (Subscriptions by individuals are not included in Subscription Option B.)
Three fundamental principles are behind the ACS pricing arrangements. First, the Web editions of our journals are far more valuable and expensive to produce than their print counterparts because of their rich collection of features. Second, in interviews and market research conducted last year librarians told us they want a flexible price schedule that allows them to subscribe to just the titles they need and lets them get online access with or without print. Finally, Web editions will cause a reduction of subscriptions by individual ACS members who can access a title electronically through their institution, and a consolidation of duplicate subscriptions in large, multi-site organizations.
But, many librarians at large institutions, both academic and industrial, tell us that while they may understand these principles, they do not feel comfortable taking advantage of the flexibility of our initial prices in 1998. Library patrons are reluctant to cancel print subscriptions -- even duplicates -- because the electronic journals are an untried and unproven medium. And the librarians themselves want to keep print for archival purposes -- at least until the electronic archiving question is better understood.
"Subscription Option B: Web With All Current Subscriptions" is an alternative to the original price plan, now referred to as "Subscription Option A: With or Without Print," which is still available to all customers. Customers may choose from either plan, but cannot mix the features of both. The plan is available immediately and any customers that have already placed an order for 1998 under Option A may switch to Option B if they notify ACS Member & Subscriber Services by Feb. 27, 1998.
Customers can obtain a full copy of Subscription Options A or B, and complete copies of the associated license agreements at our Web site: http://pubs.acs.org under the heading "About Web Editions."
Those interested in processing an order should contact ACS Member & Subscriber Services by phone at 800-333-9511 (614- 447-3776 from outside the US and Canada); by Fax at 614-447- 3671; or by e-mail: email@example.com.
197.3 MEETING WITH PRESIDENT OF ELSEVIER
Emily Mobley, Purdue University, firstname.lastname@example.org
[Reprinted with permission from a December 15, 1997 message to the ARL Directors List. See also article in New York Times, December 29, 1997]
I thought you might be interested in a report on a meeting which was held at Purdue University two weeks ago with Russell White, President of Elsevier, at our invitation. Mr. White met separately with our President and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, and with 14 members of the faculty as a group. The genesis of this meeting was a report by a faculty committee which recommended that university administrators at the highest levels should meet with like representatives from the publishing industry to express the University's concern about continually escalating serials pricing and the effect such actions were having on scholarly communications. This recommendation was one of several, including one to immediately cancel $600,000 in serials. We chose to concentrate on Elsevier because in the last academic year 27% of Purdue's total serials dollars went to this one publisher and in the last six years, our Elsevier expenditures increased by 151%.
Mr. White presented the same proposal to all parties including me. This was the "standard proposal" -- access to the electronic versions of all of their titles for 7.5% over print costs in the first year; 9% increase in each of the next two years with a no-cancellation clause; and 10% discount for electronic version in lieu of a print subscription. He stressed the value of this proposal because we would have access to titles we didn't currently have (more information for the same price, in his terms) and we would avoid the high increases caused by dollar devaluation. He stressed that Elsevier was taking a risk on currency exchange. He talked a lot about the Ohiolink contract and by virtue of his conversation seemed to suggest that this was the model of choice for all.
I was not, by choice, in the meeting with the President and Executive Vice President, but I understand the message he was given was not much different from that which he received from the faculty, a meeting that I facilitated. The faculty gave him the following points to consider:
- The symbiotic relationship which faculty have had with commercial publishers is breaking down due to the pricing policies of publishers.
- Commercial publishers seem to have forgotten that they do not produce the content which is sold and the content producers can choose to go elsewhere.
- Having access to more information (more titles) is not that important because if those titles were important to us in the first place we would be subscribing to the print version (note: our interlibrary loan records bear this out).
- It is critical that electronic serials be linked at the article level to indexing sources, particularly Current Contents or Web of Science, INSPEC, COMPENDEX, MEDLINE, and Biological Abstracts; an index which Elsevier is developing is not important and a waste of resources.
- The issue of currency exchange, particularly in the case of the dollar and the guilder is a crock. (One faculty member read him the value of the guilder over a seven year period and noted the years when there should have been a negative increase. It came out during this discussion that in essence the dollar was being used to stabilize the prices for all currencies meaning U.S. subscribers were paying for all currency devaluations.)
- Prices of titles are unnecessarily high. (One faculty member who is an editor of a society journal which is priced at $230 without page charges questioned why a similar journal covering the same discipline with a similar number of annual pages would cost four times more.)
- Elsevier's experience with Ohiolink is but one model and each state has a different culture or tradition in university support, so what worked in Ohio will not work in Indiana.
- To guarantee a 9% annual price increase means that cuts must take place elsewhere because this amount exceeds general inflation, the amount that the University would likely receive from the state. The faculty as a group stated that they would neither ask nor support a request that such an increase be given priority over other needs in the University. However, a proposal which had a 3% guarantee would be given serious consideration. (The faculty had heard rumors that some Ohio libraries were having to cancel other publications in order to meet the mandated Elsevier increase.)
- The next time serials were cut, it would be Elsevier titles because publications from scholarly/scientific society publishers would be protected.
After this meeting, my Associate Dean who is responsible for collections, and I met with him. I came away from this last meeting wondering if he had heard anything which was said during the six hours of meetings. I reiterated the points, which I'm pleased to say, were consistent at all levels of responsibility in the University. I did receive a letter from him in which he sated that Elsevier would be working with ISI to provide article level linking and that he was preparing a proposal for me which takes into account the information he learned here. We'll see! One other interesting point was made: that there's no reason why additional print subscriptions for the same title needed to be priced at the same rate as the first copy and he would look into better pricing. Purdue, even after a $600,000 serials cancellation, still subscribes to over 30 duplicate Elsevier titles.
197.4 FROM THE MAILBOX
The mailbox is: email@example.com
From Steve Hitchcock, University of Southampton, S.Hitchcock@ecs.soton.ac.uk:
(Received November 19, 1997)
There have been some interesting threads in the newsletter recently, from Rouse on the threat of e-journal package deals for libraries, to the recent discussion of e-journal pricing initiated by Durniak. Both are referred to in a new paper which tries to take a snapshot of the current state of e-journal publishing. The paper appears in the November issue of Serials, the journal of the UK Serials Group, and can also be found on the Web:
Web journals publishing: a UK perspective
by S. Hitchcock, L Carr and W Hall
From Dana Roth, CalTech, firstname.lastname@example.org:
(Received December 2, 1997)
The currency converter shows that the U.S.$ is worth about 11% more today than it did on 12/2/96 vs the Singapore$. Does World Scientific have any comment about how this has affected the subscription rates for its journals (especially since they are reported to be sending out selected renewal invoices with a 10% surcharge for electronic access).
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: 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 (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), 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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