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Comparing Publishers, was: Re: Cambridge Journals Online

I doubt Margaret really chooses between the publications of two publishers
on the basis of price alone? Surely she is interested in making the most
effective use of the available money, that is, by buying the journals that
will be needed. Price and use are both factors, and it is possible to
balance them. To the extent we are still free from the forced purchases of
publisher all-inclusive plans, I think most of us would try to do this
title by title, not publisher by publisher. (Naturally, publisher is a
rough guide; one of the ones she mentions is a very dramatic example.)

A more difficult question is how to balance getting additional titles
versus paying for better access to fewer. Obviously, ease of access is
only one factor; did anyone stop getting Nature when they wouldn't give
institutional electronic licenses?  The balance obviously depends on the
subject, the library mission, and the funding.. I agree that most research
libraries would emphasize the widest possible collection; just as in the
print era we spent a small amount on essential duplicate subscriptions, we
will now spend a small amount for additional access fees to the best
titles among those that require it.

My personal practice as a selector is to not pay additional fees for
marginal journals, but to generally seek the cheapest way of getting the
content.  The advantage of pricing separately for print and online is that
if the cost for online only or print only is a little less, I can get more
of my marginal titles and the publisher can get more subscriptions to
them. But for the really important titles, the price is the price of the
package, divided or not.

David Goodman
Biology Librarian, and
Co-Chair, Electronic Journals Task Force
Princeton University Library
dgoodman@princeton.edu         http://www.princeton.edu/~biolib/
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627


> We looked at Cambridge to see if we agree with Warren that we have nothing
> to thank them for.  They publish 157 journals - we looked at a sample of
> 61.  The average price was $287.52, ranging from two annuals at $69 and
> $80 apiece to Journal of Physiology - 29 issues per year for $2298 - and
> Journal of Fluid Mechanics with 24 issues for $1560.
> We happen also to have recently updated our list of MCB journals and their
> prices - we looked at all 124 MCB titles and found the average price per
> journal in 2000 is at $2,650, up $278 per journal.
> When we consider renewals for 2001, we will certainly keep in mind that
> Cambridge is providing us with journals which cost per annum about the
> amount of one year;s "inflation" in an MCB title and whose most expensive
> journals are less expensive than the "average" MCB title.
> It seems to me reasonable to speculate that such a publisher , though
> floundering in dealing with the networked environment, might nonetheless
> be a better long term investment for libraries.
> Not with regard to this particular discussion, but in general, it seems to
> me odd that when a journal charges $100 for "electronic access," we
> frequently object.  But if the electronic access is "free" and the price
> goes up $100, we think that is ok.
> Margaret Landesman