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Re: BMC pricing model

I think the problem is that we (or the research community or academic
publishers or academic librarians or whoever or whatever) are trying to
solve too many problems at one time.  One problem is the spiralling cost
of academic publications; another is the restricted access to many
publications.  These are two problems, not one.  Many people seem to
believe that open access will reduce total expenditures.  I just don't get
it; the opposite would appear to be true.  From the point of view of the
civic good, it is hard to argue against open (or universal) access.  The
question is who is to pay for this universal good.  By analogy, is anyone
truly against universal health care?  Isn't that argument simply about
money (how much and whose)?

To put this another way, let's take all the profit earned by publishers of
academic materials, and on top of this let's eliminate all costs
associated with hardcopy (minuscule though these are), and then we can
spread this bonanza across all the academic institutions in the world.  
It would be interesting to know the approximate size of the bonanza, but I
do know that the aggregate number will be surprisingly small, not nearly
enough for all institutions to purchase every publication.  Universal
access is beyond the reach of the current academic economy.  I wish it
were otherwise.

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "T Scott Plutchak" <tscott@uab.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2004 4:03 PM
Subject: BMC pricing model

> Now that we've all had some time to think about the implications of BMC's
> new institutional pricing model, I'm curious to hear whether people still
> think there are sufficient incentives in the new model to justify being an
> institutional member.
> While the new model does seem to be a fairer way of assessing costs to
> institutions, I think it presents problems that may be insurmountable. To
> the extent that an institution's faculty embrace the BMC journals, the
> institution is faced with the same dilemma that we're used to under the
> subscription model -- where is the money to pay the ever-increasing fee
> going to come from?
> There has been much discussion, intended to counter the concern that the
> author-pays model would unduly shift the burden of scholarly publishing to
> the research-intensive institutions, that authors should be paying the
> processing charges from their grants.  But there isn't a way (at least at
> this institution) to capture those funds centrally.  So an institutional
> membership fee has to come from the same old sources -- the library budget
> (so that it is now competing directly with other things that libraries
> never have enough money for), the indirect cost pool (which is always the
> subject of the most fierce battles within the institution -- why should
> the individuals who control those funds be any more willing to spend them
> on publishing costs than on any other worthwhile initiative?), or other
> institutional funds (of which there are never enough to go around anyway).
> I'm led to think that my best option for supporting the BMC journals would
> be to NOT try to find the funds for an institutional membership, but to
> continue education efforts on campus and encourage individual researchers
> to pay the processing charges out of their grants.  I can't think of a
> practical reason to continue the institutional membership.
> Scott
> T. Scott Plutchak
> Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
> University of Alabama at Birmingham
> tscott@uab.edu