[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Tempestuous Argument

Much of this discussion assumes that a library is buying a journal when it
subscribes to a package from an aggregator. It is not; it is merely
acquiring temporary non-guaranteed access to some or all of a journal.

I am among those who think that regular print or electronic subscriptions
to most Sci-Tech journals are priced much too high in terms of their
value, and the their prices are too high to be sustainable on an
industry-wide basis.

But the prices paid for such journals in aggregators' packages are much
too low to permit the journal to be published at all, if this were their
only source of income. A journal with a relatively high subscription price
cannot be included in full in any aggregator's package, unless it is being
subsidized at a loss to attract subscriptions.

There are two valid approaches to providing some access to those titles
for non researchers or non specialists at libraries that would not
subscribe at the full price in any event. One is the HighWire approach, of
making access free altogether after 6 or 12 months, and the other is an
embargoed or incomplete ascii version in an aggregator's package.

Exclusive contracts on the other hand are dangerous to even this level of
access, because their effect is to induce the library to maintain multiple
packages where the great bulk of the content overlaps, which is overall a
waste of resources. I think they are bad for publishers as well, because
they decrease rather than increase exposure to the journal.

Aggregator packages are a convenience for all libraries, because they do
provide some access to a very wide range of material at a very low price.
But they do not substitute for the actual journal in most cases, and no
research library can possible depend on them alone. Many research
libraries may therefore find them more attractive for the non-peer
reviewed less scholarly journals than for the scholarly ones.

The solution to unaffordable journals is an alternative publication method
that will be drastically less expensive, such as that proposed by Harnad.
It is not hoping that some agency will miraculously agree to sell you the
title at 1 percent of list price.

David Goodman, Princeton University Biology Library				
dgoodman@princeton.edu            609-258-3235