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Re: ACS Journal Archives

Responding to part of the letter from Justin Spence:

> 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
> problematic.

Without judging the difficulty of maintaining a complex record of who is
entitled to what titles from which periods of time, I note that other
suppliers do it: CatchWord, for example.

I don't think any of us objects to paying a reasonable amount for the
services we buy, it's being forced to forego back volumes or buy into the
Archive that's offensive.  When we subscribe to a journal in print, we
have the backfile at no additional subscription cost twenty years down the
line.  Nobody expects the publisher to show up at some point to haul the
older volumes away unbidden.  By the same token, we do experience ongoing
maintenance costs with volumes on the shelves that we're relieved from
paying when our access is electronic - costs that the publisher is
assuming in effect in continuing to maintain the backfile online.  If ACS
needs to recover those costs annually rather than building them up-front
into the price of a subscription, that's still a long distance from the
$1500 to $4500 threshold to secure the first lost year.  At some point
after experiencing the accumulation of incrementing annual maintenance
costs, maybe a library would find subscribing to the Archive to be
economical.  I'd rather face that choice gradually.

As to the "unfairness" of a first-time subscriber getting five years of
content while a longtime subscriber gets twenty-five years: How does that
differ from the first-time print subscriber getting just one year while
the twenty-one year subscriber has twenty-one years on the shelves?  It
seems natural that one of the benefits of paying longer is having more.

Carl A. Anderson
Coordinator of Technical Services
MCP Hahnemann University Libraries