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Re: Monopolies in publishing

It is noteworthy that the expenses detailed in Mr. Robinson's post are of
the kind that lend themselves to scale.  That is, it is relatively
expensive to handle all these items for a single publication, but it is a
trivial cost if you are managing 800 or more.  This is one (only one) of
the factors that has fueled the consolidation in the academic journals
market.  At least from an economic point of view, big publishers simply do
a better job.

Try the following on hypothetically.  An Act of Congress or the U.N. or a
pronouncement by Bono results in every single journal published by Reed
Elsevier being converted into a not-for-profit publication, each published
on a stand-alone basis.  All of Reed's profit is wiped out.  
Unfortunately, in the absence of economies of scale, the total cost to
libraries rises. Even if these processes could be made more efficient (by,
for example, working with technology like that of Berkeley Electronic
Press), there are still economies of scale.

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message -----
From: "James A. Robinson" <jim.robinson@stanford.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Monday, July 14, 2003 2:45 PM
Subject: Re: Monopolies in publishing

> > academician), referees are not paid for their services. This is the most
> > important part of peer review, and the publisher pays nothing for this
> > invaluable donation of time and expertise. For commercial publishers to
> > claim they have high costs for the editorial review process is a gross
> > exaggeration at best.
> I'd just like to throw in the observation that, according to what I've
> read, the publisher's expenses with regard to the peer review process is
> not necessarily any obvious cost of salaries to referees. Rather, they
> need to spend time and money tracking where manuscripts are, getting them
> to their destination via the fastest possible delivery services, and other
> administrative functions.
> I've seen what appear to be various models with regard to editorial staff,
> with some who are paid and with some who are volunteers. In all cases
> though, it does appear that they have set up an infrastructure to handle
> the every day "management" of the publications.  That kind of
> infrastructure often costs money, it can't always be volunteer.
> Jim