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RE: Varmus in the Chronicle

The problem Fytton mentions does not become more acute under open access,
it vanishes. In general, member subscriptions are sold at the incremental
price of printing the additional copies; they do not pay the 80% of the
cost that goes into editing and producing the journal (I realize this is a
very rough approximation, and may not apply to all societies.)  Any small
contribution made to the costs of preparing the journal will be easily
covered by properly adjusted submission fees. (One approach might be lower
fees for members.) Further, many members will elect to pay a surchange for
print (at least for small journals).

(It can also be argued that a society which one joins only to get a
journal may be of dubious usefulness in the first place.)

But the solution that Varmus orginally proposed when he was at NIH is the
simplest and the best: The real contribution that small societies make to
science can best be paid for by a direct subsidy.  In an open system like
ours', the cost should be recognized as part of the overall cost of doing

David Goodman
Palmer Schoool of Library & Information Science, LIU

-----Original Message-----
From:	Fytton Rowland [mailto:J.F.Rowland@lboro.ac.uk]
Sent:	Wed 1/28/2004 5:45 PM
To:	liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject:	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