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Eureka! re Stern Open Access Article in InfoToday (fwd)

with apologies for cross-posting

In an article opposing Open Access, I see that Yale's David Stern has
actually presented a very interesting idea for economic support for open

As David points out, support for inexpensive journals like Journal of
Insect Science and Physical Review B are eminently reasonable if shared
among a large group of libraries.  120 libraries could support Journal of
Insect Science at a rate of about $350 each per year. If a group of about
200 libraries joined together to support an OA Physical Review B (using
David's calculations), at a cost of a little over $2,000 a year.  If Yale
joined this group, they would enjoy 75% savings from their current
subscription costs!

There are groups of libraries, such as JISC, which are joining together to
participate as members in OA publishing in this manner, are there not?  
Sounds like they must know what they're doing!

I would encourage Yale to consult with its local library consortia about
setting up such a group.

Another good point David makes is the benefit of differential pricing.  
While David sees this as an alternative to open access, I would like to
point out that it would make perfect sense for libraries to participate as
members in groups like this on a tiered or differential pricing basis. If
Yale were willing to settle for a 50% reduction in cost for Physical
Review B, for example, then perhaps smaller libraries could participate at
a lower rate.

One point with respect to differential pricing which David is encouraging,
and I would like to discourage, is use-based pricing.  While at first
glance it might seem fair to distribute costs in this manner, there is
evidence that use-based pricing discourages use.  See, for example, Andrew
Odlyzkow's Internet Pricing and the History of Communications at
www.dtc.umn.edu/~odlyzko/ doc/history.communications1b.pdf - 2 Apr 2005.

While the research reported here focuses on usage by individuals - flat
rate pricing can dramatically increase usage, while even tiny usage-based
charges discourage usage - the same principles apply to libraries too. If
libraries are paying on a usage basis, then a cash-strapped university or
college can save money by eliminating the hands-on or exercise portion of
an information literacy program - or eliminating the program altogether.
Usage-based pricing makes sense for scarce resources where there are good
reasons to discourage usage (treated water, electricity) - not so with
scholarly research, which gains in value the more people read, cite, and
use the information.

There are other aspects to this article, such as inaccurate portrayal of
the history of OA, which others may wish to critique.


Heather G. Morrison

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Liblicense-L Listowner <liblicen@pantheon.yale.edu
Date: Sun, 3 Apr 2005 21:33:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Stern Open Access Article in InfoToday


Open Access or Differential Pricing for Journals: The Road Best Traveled?
by David Stern


Open access (OA) is becoming a reality, with new cost models under
development. The various cost models will have serious short- and
long-term implications for libraries and dangerously impact the scholarly
communication network. I believe that the adoption of the OA model for
journals will create serious instabilities within the existing scholarly
publication industry. OA, as a business model, is neither necessary nor
desirable. With or without the often-discussed author charges approach, it
would be almost impossible to obtain the same amount of total revenue
through selected libraries as now exists from the much larger base of
library subscriptions. Tiered or differential pricing (and services) among
the existing subscribers would be a far more logical approach to
supporting a modified scholarly journal distribution network.