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RE: Monopolies in publishing

In response  to Jose Esposito:

There isn't much evidence of economies of scale in Elsevier and other
large journals publishers operations. Per page/per journal,per 1000
character or per 10,000 characters if you look at price to libraries,
economy of scale, if it exists, doesn't show in the pricing.

The market has been so inelastic I believe, that large publishers have had
little incentive to look for means to internalize real savings in
production costs. And anecdotally, editor's processess have been fairly
well stuck in the 50's for many publishers. Even IF the publishing house
has "electronic" forwarding of mss to editors and reviewers, my guestimate
from talking with various publishers, is that less than 50% of editors
actually use the newer and potentially more cost effective means for
transmitting mss for review, processing, etc. True In house, i".e.
"typesetting", layout, proofing, etc. there may be scale savings, but even
that's hard to tell, and is where you would expect the most cost
savings/economy of scale. But now some publisher's tell us that the "in
house" what they have control over costs are not the significant piece of
the puzzle.

Just my opinion, backed with a fair amount of research done by many
others.-Cost(i.e. subscription price) per k/character studies have been a
standard for 40 years or more, and they haven't shown much if any economy
of scale with commercial publishers.

Chuck Hamaker

-----Original Message-----
From: Joseph J. Esposito [mailto:espositoj@worldnet.att.net]
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 3:27 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: 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