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NEJM; roles & relationships between HighWire Press and its customers

>From Michael Keller, HighWire Press


26 August 2001 
To: Liblicense-l readers
Re: Roles and relationships between HighWire Press and its customers

	Recent postings to Liblicense-l reveal continuing confusion about
HighWire's roles and responsibilities.  Here are a few facts, a couple of
policies, and a suggestion or two which we hope will set the record
straight, at least for now.  In short, Publishers working with HighWire
Press set their own business models and HighWire Press is non-profit.

	HighWire Press is a unit of the Stanford University Libraries.  
It is run as a not-for-profit enterprise, charging its customers, about
100 mostly not-for-profit scholarly societies, for Internet publishing
services.  The scholarly societies and their own publishing staff
determine their own business models, access policies, and subscription
rates.  HighWire Press is not a publisher. HighWire Press is not operated
to make money, but it is not operated to lose money either.  Publishers
associated with HighWire Press exchange views on business models, access
policies, readability features, and numerous other functions of use and
interest to subscribers, both institutional and individual.  HighWire
Press facilitates the exchange of views and contributes views of its own
to the on-going conversation.  However, each publisher receiving services
from HighWire is entirely responsible for its own policies.  And each
publisher charging its customers, individual and institutional
subscribers, receives money directly for access to on-line content;
HighWire does not receive money from subscribers and certainly does not
set subscription rates or access policies.

	The community of publishers receiving services from HighWire Press
have brought to the e-publishing environment numerous innovations, such as
toll free linking of cited references to meta-data sources and full-texts
of articles, free back issues - now amounting to over 300,000 articles
from 107 journals available free to the world, and a suite of advanced
services far beyond those offered by any other publishers with Internet
editions.  HighWire "cooperates"  with its own publishers to bring these
functions to subscribers and to contribute as well to the marketplace
correction that is certainly underway.

	As has been the case in earlier instances of dissatisfaction with
business models set by publishers, whether associated with HighWire Press
or not, direct communication between subscribers, including librarians
representing institutions, and the publishers themselves has been most
efficacious in persuading publishers to alter their practices.  All
readers of Liblicense-l are assured that HighWire advises or attempts to
advise publishers on experiences other publishers have had in prior
instances of one or another business practice or feature, with the obvious
exception of price setting (we studiously avoid any and all practices
prohibited by anti-trust laws and regulations).  HighWire has worked with
publishers to introduce many of their different subscription models --
beginning with IP-based rather than username-based institutional access
control in 1996 -- and that this experimentation has been helpful because
librarians have provided feedback to the publishers who (I believe) evolve
their models as a result.

	Also, a 'one size fits all' business model is no more likely in
the online world than 'one subscription fits all' would be in the print
world.  Some journals -- particularly multi-disciplinary ones with very
large individual-subscription bases and advertising bases -- have special
problems they have to deal with.  These journals are frequently very low
priced for their print, especially taking into account that they are
usually weekly.  Some examples of these are Science and NEJM in particular
(but also Nature, Circulation, etc.).  And, journals reporting basic
science may not have the same models as clinical medicine.  The model NEJM
is implementing is similar to one that Science implemented as part of a
suite of models.  Science found that the workstation model was valued by
those institutions who valued a low price for limited online availability
(e.g., community colleges, high Schools, in Science's case).  That model
isn't "wrong".  Science went on to introduce other models as soon as it
had sufficient study of large-institution results.

	Contributors to Liblicense-l may or may not be scarred from
previous engagements to persuade publishers to alter their business
practices.  Here at Stanford, librarians who have challenged the status
quo in stm journal publishing have received mostly kudos.  Nevertheless,
we urge readers of Liblicense-l to continue to inform publishers of their
concerns and, even more, to apply those concerns consistently across the
range of publishers, whether profit or not-for-profit. Balancing costs and
benefits should contribute to the sort of aggressive consumerism has and
will improve the marketplace of scholarly publishing.

Michael A. Keller
  University Librarian
  Director of Academic Information Resources
  Publisher of HighWire Press
  Publisher of Stanford University Press
Stanford University

101 Green Library
Stanford, CA 94305-6004

voice:     +1-650-723-5553
fax:       +1-650-725-4902
e-fax:     +1-520-244-4070
e-mail:    Michael.Keller@Stanford.edu
homepage:  http://highwire.stanford.edu/~mkeller/