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Re: Bergstrom & McAfee Open Letter to University Presidents andProvosts

The authors' calculations (or at least the methodologies) are certainly
accurate for print journal subscriptions. The findings are also consistent
with studies done in the past at ARL and also by other researchers.

However, the calculations would need to be done quite differently for
library and consortial package collections, wherein for a small extra
surcharge one gets many more titles.  A not atypical situation would be
that the Library subscribed to, say, 100 print journals from a publisher
-- and with the e-collection might pay an extra 5-10% for the entire list
which could have double or triple the number of titles.  At times the
surcharge might be negotiated and aggregated consortially with a payment
made by the consortium.

So, in those cases, numbers would have to be re-worked entirely; the "cost
per"  would be lower by quite a lot; and there could also be sizeable
variations between libraries' costs.  Re-working is a complex process,
were it do-able.  Ann Okerson/Yale Library

On Tue, 1 Nov 2005, Ann Okerson wrote:

> See:  www.hss.caltech.edu/~mcafee/Journal/OpenLetter.pdf
> An Open Letter to All University Presidents and Provosts Concerning
> Increasingly Expensive Journals
> by Theodore Bergstrom and R. Preston McAfee
> For nearly a century, a symbiotic relationship existed between scholars
> and scholarly publishers. Academics freely provided their discoveries,
> work, and time editing and reviewing, and scholarly publishers provided
> packaging and sold the output of the academics' labors for a modest
> profit. This benefited both groups, because the publishers received the
> most valuable inputs for free, while the academics were sheltered from the
> business end of publishing and received the packaged output at reasonable
> profits. As the primary concern of academics is the wide dissemination of
> their ideas, the arrangement was suitable for both parties.
> In the 1970s, some for-profit scholarly publishers discovered that library
> demands for journals were remarkably unresponsive to price increases and
> that the publishers could greatly increase their revenues by sharply
> increasing their prices. This is evidenced by the dramatic disparity that
> has emerged between the prices charged by for-profit publishers such as
> Elsevier, Wiley, and Kluwer, those charged by non-profit societies and
> university presses. This gap widened in the 1980s and further widened in
> the 1990s, so that the for-profit journals charge about five times as much
> per page and fifteen times as much per citation as the non-profits, as
> evidenced by
> Journal Prices by Discipline and Publisher Type*
>           	Cost per Page 			Cost per Citation
>              	For-Profit 	Non-profit 	For-Profit 	Non-Profit
> Ecology 	$1.01 		$0.19 		$0.73 		$0.05
> Economics 	$0.83 		$0.17 		$2.33 		$0.15
> Atmosph. Sci 	$0.95 		$0.15 		$0.88 		$0.07
> Mathematics 	$0.70 		$0.27 		$1.32 		$0.28
> Neurosciences	$0.89 		$0.10 		$0.23 		$0.04
> Physics 	$0.63 		$0.19 		$0.38 		$0.05
> * From "The Costs and Benefits of Site Licences to Academic Journals",
> Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jan. 04, by C.T.
> Bergstrom and T.C. Bergstrom.