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Re: Nature Journals: User Name and Password (Super ID Access)

Surely, profit -- or loss -- of a publisher should not be the concern of a
librarian or subscriber (unless he or she is also a shareholder in the
publisher, which, of course, a surprisingly large number of people are, if
only via their pension funds)? Or are we seeing signs here of what is
known in the UK as the "politics of envy"? The concerns of a librarian are
1) do I provide the right breadth and level of service to my constituents,
2) do I secure enough funding to be able to do that, and 3) do I get value
for money. It is up to the publisher to make their publications and
service attractive enough to prospective customers (and to prospective
authors and advertisers) for them to take out a subscription or licence
(or submit papers, or advertise).

The publishers make their journals attractive to subscribers and licensees
by getting good papers from good authors. Research journals and their
publishers cater as much for authors as for readers (although the way the
money flows does not reflect this). Even to the point that some have
argued that publishers are more in the business of career development for
scientist than in the dissemination of information. Every published paper
carries "brownie points" for the author, the number of which is determined
to a large degree by where the journal stands in the "pecking order"
(determined by factors such as the ISI Impact Factor). It follows that the
real competition that takes place between journals and publishers is the
one for authors. If the most respected authors submit their best papers to
your journal, then you, as the publisher, are successful and likely to
make a profit. If they only come to your journal after having been
rejected a number of times elsewhere, you, as the publisher, are likely to
struggle making a profit. If a journal fails it is more often than not as
a result of lack of author support, not readers.

Nature, Science and similar publications differ from this model, of
course. They are as much magazines as journals and depend heavily on
advertisers. The journal part of these magazine-journal hybrids follows
the model most other research journals have chosen for what is the core of
their market: institutions. The magazine part (news and such), dependent
on advertisers and therefore on large numbers of subscribers, doesn't
quite fit that model and clearly presents the publishers with a dilemma
still in need of a satisfactory solution. The magazine competition is
entirely for readers and advertisers, not for authors (journalists and
correspondents are just being paid). Science and Nature have so far chosen
different approaches to deal with their magazine sides and time will tell
who has had the better one.

Johannes Velterop

Velterop von Leyden Consultancy
9 Benfleet Close
Cobham, Surrey KT11 2NR

Tel: +44 (0)1932 860 817
Fax: +44 (0)1932 863 974
Mobile: +44 (0)7932 744 239
Email: velteropvonleyden@btinternet.com

> From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu Sun Sep 24 01:53:43 2000
> Reply-To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2000 20:40:35 EDT
> To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
> Subject: Re: Nature Journals: User Name and Password (Super ID Access)
> I agree with Kurt de Belder to the extent that I suspect strongly that
> Rick and John are correct in not seeing this as a rights question as far
> as Nature or, for that matter, Science are concerned but it always worries
> me when the word "profit" is used in what appears to be a pejorative
> sense. Would not the word "profit-or-loss" be a better term? As I
> understand it (and in my experience when I had intellectual property
> responsibility for some of the Current Opinion journals) the big concern
> for any publisher responsible for a journal with a significant number of
> individual subscribers is whether they will lose a lot of them should the
> library these subscribers use have an electronic licence to the complete
> journal. Perhaps Mr de Belder has inside knowledge of Macmillan strategy
> but I would be very surprised if the policy concerned was aimed at
> increasing individual subscribers. More likely it was an attempt to hold
> on to them.
> Anthony Watkinson
> 14, Park Street, Bladon, Woodstock,
> Oxon, England OX20 1RW
> phone +44 1993 811561 and fax 1993  810067
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Kurt de Belder <kbelder@uba.uva.nl>
> To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
> Sent: Saturday, September 23, 2000 5:09 AM
> Subject: RE: Nature Journals: User Name and Password (Super ID Access)
>> I need to disagree with the comments of both Rick Anderson and John Cox.
>> The new Nature license states that certain portions in the magazine will
>> only become available electronically to institutional subscribers after a
>> 12 issue delay.  This is not a question of not having the rights to make
>> these items available electronically.  It is a profit question.  For the
>> past year, Nature has published every week the complete magazine
>> electronically and has made it available to a number of institutional
>> subscribers on a trial basis.  It also took the publisher MacMillan more
>> than a year to design a license and a pricing strategy.  This month it
>> became clear that their strategy is clearly focused on expanding the
>> number of individual subscriptions to the electronic (and print) version
>> of the magazine, while also trying to maintain the institutional
>> subscription base.  In other words: if a reader wants the most recent and
>> important articles from Nature she will not be able to find it in a
>> library or through an institutional subscription, but the reader will need
>> to buy her own subscription.  Although our users at the University of
>> Amsterdam have been enthusiastic for the past year about the electronic
>> COMPLETE version of Nature, this University Library will not sign an
>> institutional license that only grants our readers access to information
>> with a delay of three months.
>> Kurt De Belder
>> ---------------------------------------------------
>> Kurt De Belder
>> Chief, Division of Electronic Services