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RE: Open access pricing

Joe, I think it's probably a mistake to be very sure of what will work, or
even what will be tried.  I myself can think of some possible
combinations, as can you, as can any publisher. I do not think that there
are many known elements that we can be sure of yet, or the effect of the
variation in the factors:

commercial -- university press -- society
large publisher -- small
large journal -- small
journal with many subscribers -- journal with few
high cost of production -- low  (both with repect to the publisher, and 
the journal)
high expectation of profit -- low
fields with major grant fnding -- with little grant funding
fields with long papers -- fields with many short papers
fields with non-academic readership  -- fields without

Nor do we know the responses of universities, large or small, 
their academic departments,
their funding agencies,
their libraries,
faculty in  each of the various fields.
or of
non-university subscribers and readers
non-university authors

Nor do we know the interactions with
conventional peer review,
other forms of peer review,
quality assessment of departments and universities

Many of the things you seem so sure of I rather doubt:

I think it unlikely that any publisher will find sufficient added value
for any electronic version of a journal to justify charging significantly
for it. (though of course they will for those who want print, as some
probably still will.)

How indexing and secondary access will work in this environment I cannot
predict. If I had to guess, I would say that I doubt that there will be
any role for the publishers at all in what may become a fully automatic

Therefore I cannot see what additional benefits payd aggregation would
provide in an environment where everything was already available free for
aggregated searching.

I see nothing that will benefit very large publishing enterprises: I think
experience has shown that beyond a certain size they have higher cost of
operations. Their only advantage was the size of their bundled packages
for those subscribers who considered size more important than quality.

The model that to me corresonds to renting disk space is not the author
pays model of open acess, but the ArXiv-like database model. What the
author pays model corresponds to is conventional publishing, and that is
both its strength and its weakness: it preserves the reputations and
identies of the journals, and thus need not necessarily affect the
academic rewards structure on the one hand, and it does not seem to save
much money on the other.

Dr. David Goodman
Associate Professor
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University

-----Original Message-----
From:	Joseph J. Esposito [mailto:espositoj@worldnet.att.net]
Sent:	Sat 2/21/2004 9:44 AM
To:	liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject:	Re: Open access pricing

A more likely scenario is that Elsevier or other large publishers will
have two parallel programs:  the traditional reader-pays model with
restricted access, and the open access author-pays model.  The two
programs will be knit together by a common search engine (hence the bigger
the collection, the greater the value--another reason why ongoing
consolidation is inevitable as sure as water runs downhill), adding value
to both and likely encompassing public domain documents as well (in effect
coopting the public domain).  The author-pays model is really a vertical
version of Web hosting; the publisher sells disk space to authors.  One
can imagine publishers providing the "front end" in their areas to
anonymous Web hosting facilities.  Think of the way Amazon provides IT
infrastructure for various merchants and you will see the basic economics
of the idea.

In such a scenario commercial open access publishers will compete for
authors in a variety of ways, price among them.  Some people will buy
(that is, pay) on price alone, just as some people fly Southwest Airlines
rather than United.  But there are other ways to compete.  A publisher may
be able to generate more traffic or readers to a paper in any number of
ways, not the least being aggregating search with proprietary journals.

Authors will pay more for the aggregation, the better search engine, the
ability to link to more sources and to be linked to, a situation I have
termed in another context "the processed book"
(http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_3/index.html).  So we shouldn't
expect prices to increase without correspondent increases in value.

I outlined this scenario at a conference at the National Academies last
year.  After the session ended, a prominent STM publisher (nice guy, but,
no, I won't mention his name without his ok) ran up to me to ask if anyone
was doing this (that is, developing aggregated parallel programs).  I
said, "You are."  And he said, "Yes, soon."

Joe Esposito