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(Fwd) Re: Some background information on agreement UKB & Elsevier


Not that I want to defend the entrenched scholarly communication power
blocs, but I would have thought a better indicator is to relate cost to
usage rather than number of titles to cost - you might find that use of
the Elsevier titles might be higher than non-E titles.

Having recently scanned such stats after the first 1/2 year of the full SD
package here, I've been surprised at how high the use is. We have been
toying with buying some time in the sustainability-of-the-serials-
sub*cription-enterprise stakes by going for article access versus
subscription model to provide full text access for our customers / clients
/ users. Many publishers have add-on access models which provide article
access for a unit fee. Given the notoriously high per sub price of
Elsevier titles, and the more competitively priced article access model, I
assumed that if we were willing to take the 'risk' we could dump oodles of
subs and go for article access. On the basis of empirical evidence (which
we really haven't had until the electronic age) and projecting the figures
thus far, it's remarkable that the cost of article access approaches the
sub cost. There are obvious comments to be made here:

*** Elsevier have pitched their article-access fee to remove this as a
real alternative (I have some doubts here whether it has been tried on a
broad enough scale for them to know - it's all guesswork at the moment).

*** The subs could be fine tuned so that only high-use, repeat-article
access titles (i.e. where article-access total is > subscription cost) is
subscribed to, the rest is article-access

*** If publisher income falls, then next time around they ratchet up the
article access fee (I said it was only going to buy time)

*** How does the industry (us and 'them') cope with these mega- article
databases in an economic sense

*** It all doesn't solve anything 'cos of the continuing relative
reduction in our capacity to even pay the current total subscription level
(this is particularly a problem with the publishers' strategy recently
where they throw in their entire content on the basis of preservation of
current spend).

>From our experience we are in a buying-time mode at present. Also, we are
finding that BOTH the intermediaries in the scholarly publications game
(i.e. publishers / libraries) are actually collaborating MORE now -
basically because of the Comfort Zone factor - the devil- one-knows ...
"That librarians and publishers collude to promote an inefficient agenda"
(refer report of a recent seminar held here in Oz :Sustainability in the
Scholarly Market Place: The Search for Digital Library Business Models /
http://www.library.unsw.edu.au/%7Eeirg/conf/sustain.html, and Gues Who
it's sponsored by ...).

.... a waiting game until ... who knows - it's always hard to second guess
the future in a techno-deterministic world - witness the bubbles bursting
on NASDAQ. As pour moi - it's off to see Steve Harnad (refer links on
http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/) talk this a.m. in my very own
Library ... perhaps this is the signpost to the future. Is he Comrade
Docster (Chudnov / http://www.oss4lib.org/readings/docster.php) we've all
been waiting for to lead us to the Promised Land? (Sorry - shouldn't have
mentioned the N*pster-word - there was revolution afoot in my household
yesterday ater the decision was announced ...).

Yours gratuitously,


------- Forwarded message follows -------
Reply-To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000 17:50:49 EDT
Sender: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu

Reducing our dependence on the few unreasonably priced publishers who have
caused such problems in print and are likely to cause the same problems
online seems to me the sensible course.  Nothing strengthens your
long-term negotiating position like the publisher knowing they are not
indispensable and you're willing to do without.  And we are finding our
faculty will support us in this - we've had three enquiries from editors
in the past couple months about leaving problem publishers and taking
their journals elsewhere.

The five large schools in Utah and Nevada are coordinating journal
cancellations this year and looking at cutting overlap in holdings of
titles from Elsevier, Academic, Wiley and M.C.B.

We are holding out on signing anything that encourages our faculty to get
hooked on this stuff or limits our ability to cancel high-priced titles.

At Marriott we are sending Elsevier 23% of our serials budget for 5.5% of
our titles.  Those of us reared on Consumer Reports just can't stand this.

Margaret Landesman