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Re: ALPSP statement on e-publishing.

(1) Anthony has eloquently made the case for business models that allow
unrestricted access to electronic journals free of charge (e.g. those
based on payment by the author's institution).  If "systems that
administer access" are one of the major sources of extra cost, then allow
fee access and save this extra cost.  Anthony has admitted that a
proportion of what libraries are paying for journals pays not for the
needed information itself, but for systems to make sure that other
libraries (who haven't paid) can't access the material.

(2) What Anthony says about the need for higher-grade IT-qualified staff,
to deal with complex negotiations with consortia, etc., at publishers is
true, and it is true also for libraries.  BUT ... who was it that tried to
cut out (from the electronic publishing system) the subscription agents,
who performed a very valuable service in the print era, as intermediaries
reducing adminstrative/ clerical/ finance staff needs in both libraries
and publishers?  Not the libraries.  It was the publishers.  Most
libraries would have preferred to go on dealing through agents, but some
publishers wouldn't let them.

So -- publishers incur extra costs because of the way they have chosen to
sell electronic journals, and pass the costs resulting from these bad
business decisions on to their customers as higher prices!

Fytton Rowland.


Quoting Anthony Watkinson <anthony.watkinson@btinternet.com>:


> I happened to be one of those who did project that e-only publishing, if
> one could get e-only publications accepted, would be definitely cheaper,
> but I now find that the costs of the systems that administer access is
> much higher than anyone had predicted and the costs of all the extra
> staff needed in the digital environment is much higher too.

> It is for me easier to focus on the latter costs. We do not need to look
> for the increased costs involved in employing IT specialists to maintain
> the systems, which are significant. These are different people from the
> staff engaged in handling subscriptions. But let us look at another
> sector.Let us look at the Big Deal for example.
> Whereas in the past publishers did not market journals to libraries
> except by sending out bits of paper and occasional booths at library
> conferences, now there is the very complex matter of dealing with library
> consortia.
> Whole new departments have sprung up in publishing companies, staffed by
> highly skilled people (not promotions assistants) who earn appropriate
> amounts of money and who spend a lot of their time travelling to be
> interviewed by committees of librarians - not once but several times. It
> is not surprising that smaller publisher cannot afford to make offers to
> consortia.