[Received February 24, 1998. Portions of this piece will appear in an article in Journal of Library Automation and are published here with permission.]
Buy this journal!
The academic community should save the MIT journal European Legacy before it sinks. Not only should we but we easily can, and by doing so we will demonstrate our determination to ensure a more competitive marketplace for scholarly publications.
European Legacy is edited by the same group of scholars that created the Elsevier publication called The History of European Ideas. When the editors became dissatisfied with Elsevier's services and pricing policies, they sought out MIT Press as their new publisher, an option that seemed open to them since there was no signed agreement giving Elsevier ownership of the title.
MIT Press soon learned that the absence of a contract would not prevent Elsevier from claiming complete legal ownership of The History of European Ideas. Not only did Elsevier insist that they owned the title and volume numbering of the journal, their legal dobermans made low, snarling noises to the point of preventing MIT Press from describing European Legacy a "successor journal" to The History of European Ideas.
What had started out as a handshake agreement between people who thought they were colleagues in the shared enterprise of scholarly communication ended with a very ungenteel display of muscle by one of the richest and most powerful publishers in the world. Needless to say, MIT Press was in no position to take on Elsevier in court.
MIT Press faced a daunting task. First of all, they had made a commitment to publish a great deal of new material, including the proceedings from a major meeting. They had no subscriber base. They would have to market European Legacy as an entirely new journal. And, for several years, there would be no significant indexing of the new publication to guide potential users to the contents.
It proved to be an uphill struggle for the new journal despite its obvious quality. The economic consequence of publishing a fat paper journal for a very thin subscriber list was entirely predictable. European Legacy hemorrhaged money. The red ink was such that it undermined the ability of MIT Press to take on other worthy projects.
Given the obstacles, European Legacy has made remarkable progress. It now has over 300 subscribers, including 140 institutional subscriptions. It is headed toward the black, but not fast enough. The journal is still losing money and MIT Press cannot afford to carry it for much longer.
In a world filled with intractable problems, it is deeply satisfying to encounter one that is so easily solved. The price of European Legacy is $390.00, significantly less than the price of the Elsevier journal, for three times the number of pages. The price will drop to $265.00 for the next volume when the frequency is reduced to six issues per year.
In my opinion, European Legacy is obviously not the successor to The History of European Ideas, but, rather, it is its replacement. But no matter where you find the money, you really ought to buy European Legacy now.
It will make your day.
203.2 EBSCO 1999 PRELIMINARY PRICE PROJECTIONS
Press Release dated February 25, 1998 and sent by Tommy Mitchell, email@example.com
Preliminary Price Projections for 1999 subscriptions, 1998 Subscription Historical Price Analysis
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., U.S.A.-- EBSCO Subscription Services is currently projecting a price increase for 1999 subscriptions of 9.5 to 11.5 percent for U.S. journals and 9 to 11 percent for UK journals and journals published in Continental Europe.(1) These projections are based on historical price increase data, preliminary information received from publishers and exchange rates available at date of release.
Historical Price Analysis
Subscription rates for 1998 increased by an average of 9.9 percent for U.S. journals, 12 percent for UK journals and 3.3 percent for journals published in Continental Europe. These figures include the impact of currency and are based on a weighted average of the actual ordering patterns of a significant sample of large U.S. academic and U.S. academic medical libraries.
Price Increase Factors
Ultimate price increases for non-U.S. journals priced by publishers in non-U.S. currencies 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 and British pound continue to remain strong against most Continental European currencies. The British pound also remains marginally strong against the U.S. dollar. For non-U.S. journals priced by publishers in U.S. dollars for the U.S. market, final price increases will depend on the individual publishers' policy of managing foreign currency exchange risk.
Electronic journals present a new pricing paradigm for publishers as they must now consider new costs associated with new means of production, as well as new methods of access to journal content. So far, the impact of electronic journals on serials pricing remains uncertain at best.
In addition to exchange rates and the expansion of electronic journals, cancellations of current subscriptions and information expansion in the form of increased pages and volumes also have an impact on pricing. The expectation is that these factors will continue to have an impact on pricing similar to recent years.
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.
(1) These projections are preliminary. EBSCO will continue to update price projections based on communications from publishers and changes in currency markets which affect journal prices.
203.3 EXCHANGE RATES
Albert Henderson, Editor, Publishing Research Quarterly, firstname.lastname@example.org
I received an email from a small Dutch publisher as follows:
"We have a big problem with the Dutch postal service. They have increased the rates for `outside Europe' enormously. The postage costs for 1 Year book paper were fl.5.50 and are now fl.12.-!"
While I assist this fellow explore alternate transport, I thought your readers might be interested in how the rise of the US dollar from fl.1.80 to 2.05 can provoke unforeseen inflation.
Like many periodical publishers, he has already set his prices and received payment for 1998 operations. He will probably have to make up any losses next year.
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