ISSN: 1046-3410


                     NO 254 -- December 19, 2000
                        Editor: Marcia Tuttle
                       Guest Editor: James Mouw


        Robert Michaelson
        Alison Buckholtz
        Rollo Turner

Toby Green, OECD,

[Received September 25, 2000]

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a not-for-profit publisher of 19 periodicals in the field of socio- economics including the OECD Economic Outlook and OECD Economic Surveys, has announced that there will be no price increase for its periodicals in 2001. Toby Green, Head of Marketing, said "The past two years have seen us increase our prices by more than inflation in order to move our revenues up to match our costs. Now that we have done this, we have no reason to increase our prices any further in 2001. All OECD periodicals are also available online, via Ingenta Journals, and we do not charge any supplement for online access. We also need to apologise to our subscribers and thank them for their patience this year as we moved to a new fulfilment and distribution system, a project that caused severe delays to the distribution to our print copies through the first half of this year."

OECD also makes its books available online, using a 'journals' subscription model, via its Source OECD online service, and will be adding its statistical databases to SourceOECD toward the end of 2000. "Our goal is to make all OECD publications accessible online, regardless of information type. To date we have our books and periodicals online, and by the end of the first quarter 2001 we should have added our statistical databases and reference works. All these services will be available on annual subscription giving unlimited access across institutions via IP address, with or without print." said Green. "Those familiar with our book Selective Standing Orders will be pleased to know that subscribable, online equivalents will be launched in early 2001."

Robert Michaelson, Science and Engineering Library, Northwestern University,

[Received September 27, 2000]

[This was originally submitted as a response to an International Association of Technological University Libraries questionnaire. Ed.]

I think that the major issue facing all of our libraries is the future of electronic publications. The great danger I see is that major commercial publishers will be able to impose their model for the future on research libraries. This model is most blatant in the activities of Elsevier, although Academic is following the same path: an all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it approach to electronic full-text access (ScienceDirect in the case of Elsevier) combined with acquisition of secondary sources such as Compendex and Beilstein. All of their activities are an effort to make their product "indispensable" (according to an Elsevier source in a recent Dow-Jones Business News story). In a parallel, and not unrelated, activity, publishers are seeking to limit or abolish fair use in the electronic environment.

It is imperative, in my view, that libraries reject the attempt by these for-profit organizations to abrogate our role as selectors. When libraries subscribe to ScienceDirect, IDEAL, or the like, they no longer have any control over the content of what they are paying for, since there are non-cancellation agreements built in.

There is no motivation to examine the quality of the component parts (individual journals in the print environment), since the entire stream of the publisher's journal output is included in the agreement, and there are severe limitations to the libraries' ability to cancel print components and thus reduce their costs. The publishers get what they want: absolute predictability of their revenue stream; but libraries must take whatever the publishers choose to include in their product. Note that this is quite a different matter from the journal packages of scholarly societies, such as the Institute of Physics or the American Chemical Society; with those packages, libraries get a group of high-quality titles

within a single subject area. Elsevier and Academic publish in a great many subject areas, many of which are of at most marginal interest to most libraries; moreover, many of their publications are of mediocre quality or worse (as well as being far higher in price than their society-published competitors).

The harder question though is what to do about it. First, obviously, critically examine any access proposal from these commercial publishers; insist on the right to select electronic access on a title-by-title basis; and if you aren't offered what you want, reject the proposal. Remember, we are their customers -- it is up to them to offer a product that we want; it is not incumbent upon us to accept whatever we are offered.

Secondly, examine individual journals, determine if they are worth your continuing subscriptions, and cancel titles that do not meet your standards. This of course is a very time-consuming activity, but a very important one. In addition, let the editorial boards know why you don't find their products to be worth your continuing subscriptions; for example, they may contain useful scholarship that you would continue to purchase if it were reasonably priced. Where possible, encourage editors to consider other publishers if their current publisher refuses to reconsider pricing (one such commendable example is the action of the editorial board of the Journal of Logic Programming, which left Elsevier en masse to establish a new journal, Theory and Practice of Logic Programming, to be published by Cambridge University Press).

Finally, encourage faculty to publish with respectable journals -- journals which serve the scholarly community by having high editorial standards (and thus high "impact factors") as well as by pricing that facilitates access to their articles. It doesn't make sense to publish in journals that libraries can't afford and thus nobody reads. Suggest that they consider publishing in some of the increasing number of high-quality journals available at no charge, or at very low cost, on the Internet (for example:

Advances in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics

Physical Review Special Topics -- Accelerators and Beams

Geometry and Topology

MRS Internet Journal of Nitride Semiconductor Research

and many others).

Alison Buckholtz, Assistant Director, Communications, SPARC,

[Received September 27, 2000]

The American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) recently announced its new publishing agreement with Wiley for the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Under the terms of the agreement, Wiley will reduce the institutional subscription rate from US$2085/year to $1390 per year; implement a second institutional subscription at 20 percent of the full rate ($278); initiate a special rate for lapsed or new non-member subscribers; and enhance support [of] the AAPA Editorial Office over the seven- year period of the agreement. As librarians know, it is unprecedented for a commercial publisher to reduce the price of a journal so drastically. It sets a powerful example for editors and editorial boards that are also dissatisfied with their journal's pricing but have as yet experienced no luck in persuading their publisher to reform its ways. Reaction from librarians indicates that they are greatly encouraged by this news and find in it the motivation to keep pushing back on commercial pricing policies. Dr. Jonathan Friedlaender, Chairman of the Publications Committee of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, claims that: "SPARC's activities and counsel played an essential role in our successful negotiations with our journal's publisher (and owner). SPARC helped educate us on the history and present condition of academic journal publishing; they offered informed opinions on what they thought the future held in store; and, probably most importantly, the publisher knew we'd been in contact with SPARC and were considering their advice of starting a competing journal. Both our journal and association stand to benefit substantially by the contract."

SPARC, the Association of Research Libraries and the Association of College and Research Libraries have launched CREATE CHANGE to guide editorial boards which wish to become further educated on the serials crisis. For further information on the CREATE CHANGE initiative please see: For the current issue of Physical Anthropology, the recently launched newsletter that details this announcement, please see:

Rollo Turner, Secretary General, Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries,

[Received October 18, 2000]

The ASA (The Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries) is advising its members to examine ways in which they can cut their services to publishers who give agents unacceptably low terms, without harming the interests of their library clients. This move has been sparked off by the decision of Thomson Finance to reduce their terms to a level below which a proper service to the publisher cannot be maintained.

Agents provide a hugely valuable service both to their library customers and to their suppliers, the fifty thousand or more publishers world wide. The overwhelming majority of publishers fully support the role of subscription agents who provide many valuable services to publishers (the ASA Website provides a list of ASA members and shows the services available to publishers). Those publishers who have reduced their terms to agents well below the value of these services and below the level at which agents can continue to supply such titles at list price to library customers, may as a consequence find that agents are forced to increase the price of their journals above list price. Libraries should note that this amounts to an increase in their service charges. A list of publishers on such low terms is available on the ASA Website as an aid to libraries and agents when dealing with these publishers. To view the data go to and then click on NEWS for the list of publishers, PRESS for the full press release on this subject.

Any publisher on the list who feels their company should not have been included is welcome to contact the ASA who will be glad to rectify any errors.

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 Technology and Networks at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as news is available. Editor: Marcia Tuttle, Email:; Telephone: 919 929-3513. Editorial Board: Keith Courtney (Taylor and Francis), Fred Friend (University College London), Birdie MacLennan (University of Vermont), Michael Markwith (Swets Subscription Services), James Mouw (University of Chicago), Heather Steele (Blackwell's Periodicals Division), David Stern (Yale University), and Scott Wicks (Cornell University).

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