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Electronic Nature/Nature Monthlies/Nature Reviews

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 10:14:51 EDT
From: l.a.crawshaw@herts.ac.uk
To: liblicen@pantheon.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Electronic Nature/Nature Monthlies/Nature Reviews

I thought I'd like to add my own comments regarding the recent changes in
NPG's pricing policy for it's Nature family of journals. Similar
discussions have also taken place on lis-e-journals@jiscmail.ac.uk and the
posting below is edited from a couple of postings I sent to the list a
short while back.

In 2003 we had a 12 month site license to 6 Nature Review titles and 7
Nature Monthlies titles. Having just had chance to fully digest our the
price quote from NPG for the next 12 months the price we are being asked
to pay has gone up by 74%. This is pricing gone mad! I don't know many
budgets out there that could absorb such an unexpected price increase.
Even if they can, the key question is should they be expected to? Many
others on this list and others have already expressed the same sentiment.

This price increase was in spite of us having got NPG to accept a much
lower Science FTE figure of 723 rather than 1,190 used in our 2003 quote,
by excluding FTEs contributed by Environmental Sciences, Geography,
Geology, Sports Science, Sports Therapy. Little did I know that they had
changed their pricing bands, and that these smaller FTEs made absolutely
no difference to the pricing we've been asked to pay.

Would we be getting value for money by this new pricing? Having had a look
at our 2003 usage statistics for Nature/Nature Monthlies/Nature Reviews we
find that whereas the cost per download for Nature based on the latest
pricing is �1.09, the cost per download for the Nature Reviews/Nature
Monthlies is �5.09. This makes pricing of the Nature weekly look like an
absolute bargain!

I have to say I feel very sad that I am now being forced into a situation
whereby I will have no choice but to cancel our site license to the Nature
Monthlies/Nature Reviews unless we get a substantial reduction in the
pricing for the next 12 months. We aim to provide our users with quality
resources to support teaching and learning in our institution, but we
can't justify paying such an increase. I was lucky to get additional
funding to support access to these titles under the old pricing regime.

Until NPG adopt a transparent and realistic pricing for institutions such
as my own, I feel that they have left us with no other choice. I just
don't understand their thinking on this matter, are they wanting the
Nature brand to become so exclusive that only a few of us will be able to
afford it? Don't they care about the widespread dissemination of
scientific information to the widest possible audience. Their current
policy denies access to many of those who would be their future customers.

One of the things that concerns me most regarding the Nature's change in
its pricing structure for its monthly and review journals is the lack of
any communication or warning by NPG about the forthcoming changes in
pricing and the reasons for it. As site administrator for these
subscriptions, I expect to receive a detailed explanation about the
rationale for these price increases within a transparent pricing policy,
without having to ask for one.

When the journal Science changing it's pricing structure for 2004 in order
to move to a more "equitable usage model for pricing site licenses", it
sent out information to the named institutional contact person detailing
the Science Online Renewal pricing for 2004, with further details of the
rationale for changes in their pricing policy.

The contrast between the AAAS and NPG couldn't be greater in terms of
customer care, the AAAS provided advance warning of these changes "for
budget planning purposes" and a detailed explanation of the rationale
behind it. NPG just provided us with a price quote for subscribing to
their "Nature" journals for the next 12 months, without any futher
information. We were all left to work it out for ourselves that many of us
were going to have to pay a massive price hike.

If NPG can learn anything from this, it should be that when they make a
significant change to their pricing model that it likely to have adverse
effects on some of their customers then they should be prepared to explain
this to their customers. Why can't they be more up front about their
pricing policy?

I have also begun the process of soliciting support from the academic
staff etc. in the subject areas affected. I already have the support of
the Head of our School of Life Sciences.

We faxed an official letter of protest dated 21st May 2004 regarding these
"over the top" price increases to Geoff Worton, Global Head, Site License
Business Unit in New York. Email: g.worton@natureny.com. Maybe others out
there have already done this? We have yet to receive any response.

That's all for now. 


Lesley Crawshaw, Faculty Information Consultant, 
Learning and Information Services, 
University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, AL10 9AB UK

e-mail: l.a.crawshaw@herts.ac.uk
phone:  01707 284662      fax: 01707 284666
web: http://www.herts.ac.uk/lis/subjects/natsci/ejournal/
list owner: lis-e-journals@jiscmail.ac.uk