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Re: Varmus in the Chronicle

Another second-order issue has been mentioned to me by some small learned
societies.  It is a problem for them even with subscription-access
electronic publication, but becomes more acute with open access.  A fair
proportion of their sales have been to private individuals, often
requiring those individuals to be members of the society to get the
journal.  If the individuals' employer institutions subscribe to the
electronic version, those individuals can get the electronic version
without paying individually - in the print era they had to compete with
everyone else for the library copy, so they subscribed themselves.  If
*everybody* can get the electronic copy free (open access) the problem
gets worse (from the society's viewpoint) - no-one needs a personal
printed copy, so no-one belongs to the society, which collapses....  Of
course that is a caricature extreme, but it is the essence of many small
societies' worries.

Fytton Rowland, Loughborough University, UK

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rick Anderson" <rickand@unr.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 3:39 AM
Subject: RE: Varmus in the Chronicle

> > Harold Varmus is right. Maybe his remarks were not reported in full. You
> > know how journalists cut to the bone! There is no reason why learned
> > societies should not continue their academic activities under an open
> > access model, receiving as much income from publication-payments as they
> > currently receive from subscriptions.
> Assuming that they would, in fact, receive as much income from author
> charges as they currently do from subscribers.  I'm not sure that's
> self-evident, and I don't think societies are being either greedy or
> paranoid in thinking that Varmus' attitude is a bit unrealistic.  If a
> society that has been substantially (or entirely) funded by journal sales
> takes the plunge into open access, and author-funded submissions don't end
> up picking up the financial slack, what does Varmus suggest?  Something
> less facile than "find other sources of funding," I hope.