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Re: CHE: Anthropology Association Will Give Electronic Access...

I'd like to object to the statement that, for the American Anthropological
Association, "the costs of printing and postage were skyrocketing." Allen
Press printed their publications through the middle of 2002, and for the
last several years that we were their printer we did not raise their
prices one dime. They left for another printer in 2002 and I think we can
safely assume that they didn't leave to pay higher prices.

I'm writing to the list not just because I'm annoyed by this false
statement, but instead to point out that in general publishers who blame
subscription price increases on printing costs are not being truthful with
their subscribers. Academic journal printing has been extremely
competitive over the past several years, at least in the U.S., and we
printers are lucky if we're able to pass along the cost of inflation, let
alone raise our prices. Paper and other material prices have also been
relatively stable. If the number of pages printed increases the costs
certainly increase in tandem, but that's not because the cost of printing
itself has gone up.

Postage costs have gone up but not in the past couple of years. For most
small run journals, postage represents a relatively small percentage of
the cost of publication.

Librarians should be aware that if publishers are raising their prices in
excess of inflation, it's not because of the cost of printing and probably
not because of the cost of postage.

Guy Dresser

At 11:23 AM 1/12/2004, you wrote:
Of possible interest to readers of this list:


This article, "Anthropology Association Will Give Electronic
Journal Subscriptions to All Members," is available online at
this address:


This article will be available to non-subscribers of The
Chronicle for up to five days after it is e-mailed.

The article is always available to Chronicle subscribers at this


Anthropology Association Will Give Electronic Journal Subscriptions to All


ONE-STOP SCHOLARSHIP: Not long ago, the leaders of the American
Anthropological Association saw some writing on the wall. Here and there,
cash-starved college libraries were canceling subscriptions, and the costs
of printing and postage were skyrocketing. It became clear that by about
2007, the association's publications program, which comprises 29 scholarly
journals, would no longer be financially viable.

"This was one of those incremental things that began to show its face two
or three years ago," says Mac Marshall, a professor of anthropology at the
University of Iowa, who helped to sound the alarm. "I was editing one of
the triple-A journals, and we were sustainable, but others were
hemorrhaging badly."

So far, so familiar. Scholarly groups in almost every discipline face
similar dilemmas. The anthropologists, however, have fixed upon an
unusually ambitious solution. Soon, every member of the association will
be given electronic access to all of its 29 journals as a regular benefit
of membership. Libraries will be offered the electronic package at a price
that, according to one early estimate, will be less than the current cost
of print subscriptions to the association's five leading journals, which
now cost approximately $125 each.

The scholarly journals will be only one element of the association's new
Web portal, AnthroSource, which will make available a wide array of audio
and visual material. "I've been talking with a museum about creating a
system that would allow one to call up an artifact and then turn it around
so that you can see it from all angles," says Bill Davis, the
association's executive director. "Technology makes all this possible, and
this is exactly the kind of thing that we intend to do."

Beginning this month, the association will turn over the production and
distribution of its journals to the University of California Press. By
January 2005, the press intends to offer electronic access to an initial
set of 10 journals, including American Anthropologist, Cultural
Anthropology, and Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Access to the other 19
journals will be rolled out during the following two years. The new Web
site will include the full contents of each journal back to its first
volume. (American Anthropologist, for one, dates back to 1888.) The text
will be fully searchable, and most citations will be interconnected.


copyright Chronicle of Higher Education 2004.