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Re: BioMedCentral Revised Institutional Membership Model

Mr. Velterop,

We can talk syntax and semantics until we're blue in the face.  However,
the term "membership" in this case, based on our understanding, was
clearly synonymous with "flat rate."  When our consortium was negotiating
with BMC, there was never mention of anything other than a flat rate with
our "membership."  Prior to that our faculty had to pay $500 per article
to publish in BMC journals.  The only rationale we would have for
"joining" BMC as "members" would be to save our users part or all of that
$500.  Our goal was not and is not to simply tranfer the per-article cost
from the faculty member to the library.  Even with our consortium's 10%
discount off of the "new" per-article cost of $525, we'd still be back to
paying close to $500 per article.  This is not the "deal" we signed on
for.  We all will have a lot of thinking/evaluating to do before
considering renewal.

Yes, we do understand the necessity for your company and others to charge
enough to cover all of your costs and make a reasonable profit.  However,
many of us were not provided with enough information to understand your
company's actual policy.  We must have a full understanding if we are to
make good decisions.  For whatever reason, this did not happen this

In this or another of your messages you say you (the company) have not
detected any "suspicion" on the part of your customer base.  You have not
been listing to some or our comments on our consortia or other lists.  I
guess you can consider this your wake-up call.

We consider the BMC product to be a good one.  Let's hope we can come to a
better, mutual understanding such that we can continue a business
relationship in the future.

Tom Williams

Thomas L. Williams, A.H.I.P., M.S.L.S.
Director, Biomedical Libraries
University of South Alabama
College of Medicine
BLB 326b
Mobile, Alabama 36688-0002
Tel. (251)460-6885
Fax. (251)460-6958

Jan Velterop wrote:

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> RE: BioMedCentral Revised Institutional Membership Model
> From: Jan Velterop <jan@biomedcentral.com>
> Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 18:07:38 EST
> To: "'liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu'" <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
>Apologies if I wasn't clear enough last time. Membership fees after the
>initial year are calculated on the basis of the number of articles from a
>given member institution published in that first year, times the base
>Article Processing Charge. The calculation will take place anytime a
>membership is up for renewal. We approach every member and explain and so
>far they have accepted our policy. Fortunately we have not noticed much
>'suspicion' and most members are extremely supportive and understanding of
>the charging model that we call 'membership', for what the term is worth.
>They could of course always choose not to renew.
>Flat membership charges have their attraction. It would work, but only if
>it is understood that the fees must be set at average level and some would
>pay more per 'deliverable' and others less. The membership fee of you gym
>is as low as it is (are they ever?) because a lot of members pay but never
>show up. If they did, the gym would need more treadmills and rowing
>machines and what not and your membership fees would go up.
>It was the relatively widespread concern among institutions that they
>might end up paying more per published article that made us think again
>and as a reponse to that feedback we adapted the flat fee scheme into more
>of a proportional payment one. We stand by the unlimited number of papers
>for the first year, whatever the fee.
>It's interesting that you seem to have expected that, since Open Access is
>such a good concept, the OA advocates must be infallible in the way they
>work out all the details of their economic model in advance.
>Unfortunately, that is not the case. We haven't been able to foresee all
>the reactions, didn't even expect so, and we are adjusting and amending as
>we go along, listening carefully to feedback. I also fully accept that we
>may not have been as clear about what we did think we could foresee as we
>might have imagined. We haven't got the benefit of the experience of a
>model that has been going for a few hundred years. (Is that perhaps the
>reason why the old model is so perfect?)
>As for the term 'membership' I'm afraid I don't agree with your
>interpretation. It is a fairly loose term and can mean many things. It is
>a name for the sustainable payment construction we are developing
>according to the realities of the science publishing process. We are not
>developing a payment construction to fit a particular preconception of the