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Re: ACS Journal Archives

Forwarded at the request of ACS.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 2002 18:40:40 -0500
From: Kathy Perry <kperry@gmu.edu>
To: Ann Okerson <ann.okerson@yale.edu>
Subject: FW: ACS Journal Archives

I have been asked to share with liblicense a copy of a letter Justin
Spence, the ACS Director of Sales and Marketing, wrote in response to
Dennis Dillon's letter, first posted on ChmInf-L.  If this note hasn't
already been posted to the liblicense-L, would you please share it with
the readers? Many thanks, Kathy

Katherine A. Perry
VIVA Director
703/993-4662 (fax)

-----Original Message-----
From: Justin Spence [mailto:j_spence@acs.org]
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2002 1:09 PM
Subject: ACS Journal Archives

Dear CHMINF readers,

Recently there have been some postings regarding the pricing and terms of
access for the ACS Journal Archives, a new online database of ACS original
research that dates back to 1879.  In working with many customers over the
last several weeks we have discussed these issues as well as the sizeable
benefits that the Archives provide.  We have also established a Web site (
http://pubs.acs.org/archives/ ) which, augmented by recent e-newsletter
mailings to our customer base, provides a comprehensive look at the
benefits and features of the Archives, as well as the specific policy
issues in question.

This is a complex matter that I think would benefit from consideration in
a larger context.

The building of the database, which includes more than 2.5 million pages
of text and 500,000 articles over 120 years, continues to be a massive
undertaking.  It has required an extensive overhaul of our IT
infrastructure in order to ensure ongoing, immediate desk-top access to
such an important collection of chemistry research.  This work has
involved the addition of a super high availability SAN/SUN Cluster
Environment, redundant servers and storage units, load balancing hardware,
new Oracle servers, greatly expanded bandwidth capacity, and the staff
necessary to implement and manage these resources.  Coupled with an
extensive redesign of our search interface (due to roll out later this
month), these changes also allow us to greatly expand the offerings of the
current Web Editions with the addition of cross journal, full text
searching, free display of abstracts, and even better "uptime" than the
99% benchmark we have provided over the past four years.

We think these efforts represent a significant step forward in making a
large amount of valuable chemistry research more readily accessible.  The
ACS remains committed to making the investment necessary to create a high
quality, long lasting digital archive of our content and re-investing in
the Web Editions as a whole.

In determining how to provide access to the Archives, serious
consideration was given across multiple levels of ACS governance to making
the entire database free under the Public Library of Science initiative.
After protracted analysis and debate, ACS governance opted not to adopt
that approach at the current time.

Once the decision to charge for access had been made, we felt it was
important to create an approach that was both flexible and affordable.
We continue to learn how customers want to use electronic offerings and
need the flexibility to work with them to develop long-term policies and
pricing aimed at meeting those needs.  Rather than establish a "one-time"
fee that would still likely require yearly administrative charges, we
opted instead for a nominal annual fee that ranges from a high of $4,500
to low of $1,500 per site (a per article cost of $0.009 and $0.003
respectively). It is our hope that the savings in document delivery
charges, retrieval of stored copies, and costly library shelf space --
along with the benefits of increased productivity -- will more than offset
these charges. The majority of our institutional customers will pay less
than $4,500.  We will endeavor to continue to keep costs low in the future
and have already determined that 2003 prices for the Archives will remain

Pricing for the ACS Web Editions in general has migrated steadily downward
during their short lifetime.  In 1998 we charged 125% of aggregate print
holdings with no allowances for cancellation.  In 2000 that was lowered to
115%, and last year we made allowances for print cancellations, thereby
enabling customers to control their expenditures better.  While we cannot
guarantee the same for the ACS Journal Archives, we can ensure the same
openness to revisiting our policies over time in light of our experience
and feedback from customers.  Our commitment to single digit targets for
percentage returns on revenue remains constant, and this surplus is used
to support ACS Member programs that do not generate revenues.

The decision to limit current subscriptions to access to five years of
content was a difficult one.  After careful analysis, it became clear that
the complexities of administrating differing start dates (depending on the
year first subscribed) to differing titles for customers with changing IP
addresses would quickly become unmanageable.  Furthermore if we did not
specify a five year timeframe for current subscriptions, the design of an
interface that clearly defines for end users what is accessible and what
is not would become confusing and frustrating.  Lastly, it seemed
unreasonable for a new subscriber in 2020 to pay the same amount of money
for five years of access that a long term subscriber would for access to
25 years of content.  It is our sincere hope is that the relative cost of
the Archives will be judged reasonable, making this issue less

These are important issues to consider during a complicated and
evolutionary time for publishers and libraries alike.  As is the case with
many issues surrounding electronic publishing, there are trade-offs to be
weighed. However, while there is much work to be done, in the short time
we've been involved with Web publishing we hope we've demonstrated a
commitment to offering high quality at fair prices and remaining open to
adaptation, while at the same time expanding the functionality of, and
access to, a large collection of important chemistry research.

We welcome continued dialogue on this matter and thank you for your


Justin R. Spence
Director, Sales & Marketing
American Chemical Society
202-872-6005 (fax)

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