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RE: Varmus in the Chronicle (RE: Copyright and OA: New York Times and Chronicle of Higher Ed

There's one area at least where cost savings can confidently be expected:
distribution costs.

>From the viewpoint of the library, all research libraries have one and
usually more professional position dealing with e-journals. In my
experience about 3/4 of the work consists of negotiating contracts,
licensing, and payment, and resolving access difficulties. (The remainder
is cataloging, and usage statistics). Indeed, I offer an entire course
each year at Palmer on how to do this administration.  

>From the point of view of the publisher, it is usually estimated that
e-journal distribution expenses are about 10-15% of the total price.
Undoubtedly most of it is the cost of running the server and the cost of
providing the necessary secure backup, but some is in administering the
access rights. (And, again in my experience, if a publisher's system
fails, this is the weak point.) All of these costs this could be

There are other possible savings: Interlibrary loan would no longer be
needed, at least for current journals. Many complicate consortial
arrangements would be unecessary--at least for this purpose.
I accept that there would be some cost of administering author payments,
but I would expect this to be much simpler. Perhaps those publishers who
now charge submission fees can elucidate this point.
David Goodman
Associate Professor
Palmer School  of Library and Information Science, LIU
-----Original Message----- 
From: Jan Velterop [mailto:jan@biomedcentral.com] 
Sent: Wed 1/28/2004 6:04 PM 
To: 'liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu'; ucylfjf@ucl.ac.uk 
Subject: RE: Varmus in the Chronicle (RE: Copyright and OA: New York Times and Chronicle of Higher Ed

Marc is right in that input-paid open access publishing is a business
model. It will have to be if one doesn't want science publishing to be
altogether dependent on subsidies, which can be notoriously fickle.

But not *just another* business model, implying that it's just trading six
of one for half a dozen of the other.

Even in the unlikely event that open access would end up costing the
academic community the same, in the aggregate, as the old-line
subscription model does, the gains of an open access model are
incalculable. Not only would *everybody* have barrier-free access to the
published material and be able to use it freely, there would also be
derivative benefits such as increased effectiveness of research, and with
it, increased effectiveness of every Euro, Dollar or Yen spent (often from
tax) on research.

That said, I don't think open access will be as expensive as the
subscription model. It is easy to see why it is likely that the open
access model will allow a fair profit for smart publishers, but, due to
its built-in competitiveness, not the sort of egregious profits/surpluses
that some publishers (tax paying as well as tax-exempt) now enjoy on the
back of what is basically a monopolistic model. Those who do not unduly
exploit their monopoly, and whose fair profits/surpluses are also not
currently unnecessarily depressed by an inefficient operation, will find
that an open access model is quite capable of bringing them a similar
level of financial returns as the old-line subscription model does.

Jan Velterop