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Re: ALPSP statement on e-publishing.
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Re: ALPSP statement on e-publishing.
- From: Eric Hellman <email@example.com>
- Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 22:14:30 EDT
- Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sender: email@example.com
Peter's argument about the University of Chicago Press experience is incomplete without noting that the University of Chicago Press's production process has always been oriented towards very high-quality, carefully redacted titles. In other words, the electronic-first process saved money on a process that started out expensive. Many other publishers have found that in order to go electronic, they have had to clean up a lot of messes that the print-first process was letting them ignore. So, in fact they are not lying when they say electronic costs them more. I have previously observed that journal publishing is now a technology business, and like all other technology businesses will experience an exponential decline in cost of production. The chip industry has been on a curve of 100% improvement every 18 months; for the steel industry the rate has been much smaller, but constant nonetheless. My estimates are that per-article cost of production in journal publishing will decline by about 10% per year for the forseeable future. Producers that exceed this rate will do well, producers that lag will not do well. Eric At 1:13 PM -0400 4/28/02, Peter B. Boyce wrote: >Chuck raises a very valid question about the real costs of electronic >publishing. > >During the last decade, the University of Chicago Press made a substantial >effort to retool the publishing process used for the American Astronomical >Society journals. By going to an electronic-first concept -- meaning that >the articles were converted to archival quality SGML as soon as they were >received -- and deriving the paper and electronic screen versions >automatically from the SGML, we have made significant savings in the >publishing process. The AAS now produces both electronic and paper >versions at a cost less than was needed to produce the paper version alone >ten years ago. > >It took a significant effort and a substantial amount of time to achieve >this, but we are publishing faster, better, and cheaper than we used to. >But not all journals will fall into this mode. The AAS journals are >expensive journals to produce -- that is, they contain significant amounts >of complex math and they are more heavily copy edited than many other >journals. Under these circumstances, and with authors submitting >near-perfect manuscripts using our well defined LaTeX macro package, it is >possible to achieve cost savings by going electronic. > >Yet, I see publisher after publisher claiming that adding an electronic >version costs them more. In many cases I am skeptical, and would hope that >by retooling their time-honored processes they could add the electronic >version far much less than they are charging. > >The other benefit of going to archival quality SGML for storage of the >articles comes in maintaining and providing access to the back issues. In >our case, the screen version is automatically derived from the SGML at >very little cost. This means that making technological updates to the >older articles becomes very simple. Moreover, the cost of storage and >compute power is dropping much faster than the volume of pages to be >served is increasing. So, in sum, and even including the increasing number >of older pages, the overall costs to serve a journal to subscribers should >be decreasing. Maintaining and serving the past issues is a minor >extension to the work of serving the current issues. Chuck is right in >this. > >The underlying assumption I am making here is that the journal is designed >for easy maintenance, using a good, robust version of HTML (or perhaps >XML). If a publisher does that, and uses automated tools and translation >programs, then maintaining the complete backlist should have very little >cost impact. > >Yet I do not see either of these outcomes happening. Publishers in general >are charging additional costs for producing electronic versions of their >journals which range from small to exorbitant increases. And, they are >claiming that the cost of maintaining an electronic archive is overly >burdensome. Going by our experience, I find it difficult to believe either >of these claims. We, for one, are paying for the long term preservation >out of current revenues (probably less than 1% of current revenues). Yes, >serving electronic journals takes some effort, but once you are doing it >for your current journals, adding the long term preservation and access is >really trivial. > >I don't think electronic journals in the sciences should cost more than >their paper counterparts used to cost ten years ago. > >--Peter Boyce--