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RE: Monopolies in publishing

We're a commercial newsletter publisher and I can attest to the high costs
of publishing. A few years back, we produced a "free" peer-reviewed,
online journal in the otolaryngology field, hoping that advertising
revenues would cover the costs. Unfortunately, costs were much higher than
we anticipated. Some examples:

1. Promotion. The editorial board worried that the journal wouldn't get
sufficient article contributions unless active promotion efforts were
undertaken. We resorted to expensive direct mail to alert our potential
audience of the journal's existence.

2. Editorial coordination. Tracking and managing articles throughout the
process was particularly expensive, requiring much more staff time than we
had planned. We found that contributors from the academic community are
accustomed to shifting the burden of "clerical" work to someone else.
Indeed, academic contributors were so unfamiliar with routine tasks that
they had almost no idea of the extent of work needed to coordinate and
manage the process.

3. Editing. Articles needed extensive copyediting, triggering more rounds
of review and requiring more hours of tracking and coordination.

4. Formatting. Articles came to us in a range of formats, all needing
extensive work to prepare for the Web. Little problems, such as the
varying ways in which an m-dash is formatted, added up. Our contributors,
who were clueless about the details of publishing, needed continual
reassurances that their articles were indeed moving through the process.

5. Technology. Web technology is continually evolving. We spend a
considerable amount of time tracking technology to ensure that our online
services are current. Lately, we've had to focus on data security and
accessibility (ensuring that our site is accessible to users with various

6. Risk. We ultimately had to eat the entire cost of publishing the
journal. We're currently considering launching two new publications and we
know from experience that the odds of success in today's environment are
about 50/50. Where do we get the capital to risk on new publications? From
profits. Without profits, we couldn't fund new publication development.

All of this was on top of usual business costs: rent, payroll, general
office, liability insurance, errors and omissions liability insurance
(which is expensive), professional services, utilities, capital equipment,

Getting back to the original topic, monopolies, I anticipate further
consolidation in the journal publishing industry. As more users "share"
journal subscriptions, publishers have fewer subscribers over which to
spread their fixed costs. So publishers raise prices, which triggers more
"sharing," further declines in the number of subscribers, and further
price increases. Publishers are painfully aware of this cycle. So to keep
prices down, publishers seek acquisitions to enlarge the base on which
they can spread their costs. Many smaller journal publishers eventually
have a choice of either raising prices to exorbitant levels, or selling
out to bigger companies. And so the consolidation train continues down the

Although we've been affected by these trends, we now specialize in
journalist-written analyses of trends and issues and are providing more
value-added services, including personalization, thereby avoiding the
risks of journal publishing.

Dean H. Anderson

COR Health
Insight ... not just news

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu]On Behalf Of Anthony Watkinson
Sent: Monday, July 14, 2003 2:49 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Monopolies in publishing

As Mr. Funk thinks that commercial publishers lie when they talk about
high costs of the editorial review process there is little point writing
anything about the (growing) costs of paying the editor, the editorial
backup, the office costs, the online reviewing systems etc. There are many
publishers who wonder where all the money goes in libraries, but on the
whole they do not post about it. However as my friend Terry Hulbert, who
is a learned society publisher and therefore presumably not commercial in
Mr. Funk's definition, has stopped lurking he may be able to tell him what
sort of money the IOPP pay out.