[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

re:APS pricing explained for 2003

Dear Readers,

>From my experience in nonprofit journals publishing, I would venture that
publishers have a very difficult time holding the line on page counts when
the submission rates are climbing mostly because of the fear of
competition. There are several bad fallouts from reducing the acceptance
rate ever farther in response to increasing submissions:

* Journal editors generally get VERY unhappy. Their importance to the
publisher cannot be overemphasized!

* New journals crop up to provide outlets for the content, leading to
increased competition and fracturing of the publication outlets.

In this day when a critical mass of content is becoming more and more
valuable in order to attract eyes of readers and purchases from library
consortia, losing good content to a new journal with (most likely) another
publisher is NOT good.

I applaud APS for providing this detailed explanation and allowing the
community to better understand the pressures in the scholarly
communication system.

Janet H. Fisher
Publishing Consultant
39 Harrington Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Phone 617-489-6896
E-mail: janetfi@rcn.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Waters, Donald" <DJW@Mellon.org>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Saturday, August 03, 2002 9:20 PM
Subject: RE: APS pricing explained for 2003

> Colleagues,
> As many of you surely did, I found the data that APS generously provided
> below in its pricing explanation to be very interesting and provocative.
> All sorts of qualifications and explanations, which aren't made explicit
> in the document, are no doubt needed to understand the full implications
> of these data .  For example, one would want to know how the aggregated
> data break down over the individual APS products.  One would also want to
> understand more specifics about the secular drop in subscribers.  Still,
> because these data are offered as part of a general explanation for a set
> of APS policy decisions about pricing, it is perhaps not completely unfair
> to use them generally to raise a number of related policy questions.
> I was particularly struck that growing pressure on the demand side for APS
> products seems to be having no effect on the supply side.  That is,
> subscriber demand is said to be dropping by 3.5% per year while, by my
> calculation, the number of manuscripts published is going up on average by
> 3.6% per year over the period from 1997 to 2001.  The number of pages
> published is growing at an even faster rate at 4.26% per year.  Given the
> apparently inexorable rise in costs of publishing, why is the policy
> decision to pass through the rising costs (at a low and declining margin)
> in the form of rising prices to the subscriber.  Why isn't the choice,
> given the declining demand, to constrain the number of articles and pages
> published so that the total costs are reduced and so that the line could
> be held (or reduced) on prices?
> Roger Noll provides the classic answer [Serials Review 18 (1992):32-37] by
> explaining the increase in supply in terms of the continuing pressure by
> scholars to find specialized outlets for their articles, which results in
> part from the tenure process.  However, the forces in Noll's explanation
> are supposed to interact in a very specific way.  He accounts for
> increased supply in the form of the creation of new and more specialized
> journals and suggests that the logic of "monopolistic competition" would
> drive individual journals (like Physical Review) to be increasingly
> selective in the face of increased supply, thus driving up its quality and
> its standing as a "must have" product in the face of buyer decisions to
> cancel subscriptions.
> APS, however, does not appear to be following the logic one would have
> expected from Noll's explanation.  According to the data below, APS is not
> becoming more selective in the face of increasing supply and declining
> demand.  Instead, the acceptance rate of manuscripts published over the
> period has stayed constant at about 58% of those submitted.  As a result,
> because the supply keeps rising, the journal products just keep getting
> fatter and prices keep rising.
> Why are the economic forces not operating in the way that Noll predicted?
> What compels publishers like APS to publish more, rather than be more
> selective?  Is there no real economic advantage to greater selectivity now
> that online publication is a factor?  And why aren't libraries objecting?
> If they are, why aren't they more effective in changing the policy
> decisions of the publishers?  Is a "big deal" effect at work here, where
> work of lower quality is being bundled with the high quality articles,
> making it difficult for a buyer to discriminate and buy only material of a
> determinate quality?  In not pushing back on this kind of bundling, are
> libraries effectively colluding with publishers, sacrificing quality for
> quantity at an increasing cost to institutions of higher education?
> Don Waters
> Program Officer
> Scholarly Communications
> The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation