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Re: Comparing Publishers, was: Re: Cambridge Journals Online

Of course it's not just price.  But I am spending a substantial portion of
the trickle of new money to our campus.  We need it for scholarships,
salaries, and more journals, among other things. I feel I should guard
every dollar as if it were my own (an unfortunate number of them are).

I object to paying several (or even a couple) thousand dollars for
something which if done by another and equally "high-quality" publisher
might cost less.

High priced journals didn't come to be high priced because of their
superior quality or because they get more uses. They came to be high-
priced because we paid. I've already done that - in print - and I'm not
going there again - with the same players - for a bit yet.

This time I want to try first to back good reasonably priced publishers,
for-profit and not-for-profit, even if they are so out of it on the
electronic front that it takes some years to educate them.  And I'm
willing also to back products which have not yet achieved the level of
quality we need but are moving in that direction and can be expected to
remain at a reasonable price level (in dollars, not expressed as a
percentage of where they are now).

Margaret Landesman


From:           	David Goodman <dgoodman@princeton.edu>
To:             	liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject:        	Comparing Publishers, was: Re: Cambridge Journals Online
Send reply to:  	liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Date sent:      	Tue,  1 Feb 2000 17:21:52 EST

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