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ALPSP statement on e-publishing.


I read with interest the executive summary of the new ALPSP report on
authors and electronic publishers.

I have a question about an assertion in the article "Electronic Publishing
and Learned Societies" - http://www.alpsp.org/epub_learnsoc.pdf an ALPSP
paper for the Research Support Libraries Group ..a [PDF]pdf file on the
ALPSP site

Here's the statement I'm interested in:

"However, electronic publishing has been found to bring substantial (and
continuing) new costs; the creation and maintenance of an appropriate
system to hold and provide access to content is an expensive business. We
know, too, that the costs of long-term preservation will be substantial
and are likely to impact everyone in the information chain. For most
learned journals, with circulations of under 1000, the savings on
manufacturing, materials and distribution costs form a negligible
percentage of total costs. Additional costs are incurred for as long as
customers require both print and electronic versions; we are lobbying to
remove the VAT problem which contributes to libraries' reluctance to
abandon print, but insecurity about long-term access and preservation, and
users' own preferences, are also factors."

Does ALPSP have documentation for the "substantial(and continuing) new

PC's and servers, it seems to me are a part of the normal cost of doing
business for many businesses in the current era. Has someone teased out
the costs for new initiatives in electronic publishing as opposed to the
ongoing investment for new technology that would be normal? And has that
new investment that is distinct from the ongoing costs of doing
business,-the statement seems to suggest- resulted in substantial cost
that indeed is on top of the ongoing costs of the "old" system? What does
substantial mean? Most western businesses and institutions have made the
leap from typewritters to pcs on staff desks, and though they cost more,
and have to be upgraded regularly, they are a cost of doing business, not
a "new cost" for new product, except it's easier to create "new products"
than it had been with typewriters.  So, how has ALPSP or its members
accounted for these costs. Are we talking about investments that had to be
made even to maintain the "old" way of doing business? What can actually
be imputed to the "new" products. Publishers are famous for assinging
costs of various things to their titles, so I wonder if there is real
evidence that these expenses have to do with new products, as opposed to
what had to be done to keep the paper flowing.

I suspect the situation is a bit murkier than the sentence suggests,does
ALPSP have hard data on this assertion, and has it been shared, published,

I'm just not sure that the new processess didn't have to be gone into just
to survive, even if there were no electronic product in the end.

thank you.

Chuck Hamaker
Associate University Librarian for Collections and Technical Services
Atkins Library
University of North Carolina Charlotte
704 687-2825