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Re: Question about open access and print

Would a library cancel its subscription if all the content were freely available online?

The experience of the British Medical Journal, among others, says that they do (see http://www.alpsp.org/events/2005/PPR/default.htm)

And our recent study of librarians suggests that, though not by any means the most important factor in cancellations at present, more than half of our respondents thought free availability *in repositories* was 'important' or 'very important' and over 80% think it will be in 5 years' time. Since some of their reasons why not had to do with it not being the final version, or issues around permanence and reliability, I'd guess the figure would be higher had we asked about free online access to the journal itself. The full report will be published in the next week or so.

Sally Morris, Chief Executive
Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
Email: sally.morris@alpsp.org

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Feinman" <RFeinman@downstate.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Thursday, March 02, 2006 11:46 PM
Subject: Re: Question about open access and print

Hang on, David. Perhaps I did not explain this well so let me make clear what I am doing:

Participants at the conference, as their conference contribution, submit a paper to N&M. Some of these contain new results and are peer-reviewed in the usual way for research papers. Some are essentially invited reviews which are usually reviewed only by the editors in chief. Both of these types of papers have the same status as any paper of the particular type that we publish.

After all are published, it is our intention to also publish, for the convenience of those who want it, a 'collected papers' volume. This is a standard genre that usually involves classic papers or papers on a particular subject that have been published in a variety of journals or over a period of time, or for that matter is basically no different than journals that have a print and an online version. That's it.

If your library never buys such books, or never buys such books when the collected papers are available on line, that is the answer to my question. Perhaps the situation is new, that is, traditionally 'collected papers' are only published if they are classics. One of the things that is new, is that for books, Amazon may ask an author to put their book on-line explaining that contrary to what one might expect, sales increase if the books is available on-line. Other examples include Institute of Medicine publications which are available from their website but one can purchase a print-on-demand volume.

This has everything to do with OA. The second part of my question got truncated but it is whether a library would subscribe to a print edition if there was free access to their on-line edition. The most important examples are probably Nature and Science (or for some people, New England Journal of Medicine or whatever) which are available through subscription in most university libraries and therefore members of the university have online access and do not need to have personal subscriptions. But reason not the need. I subscribe to Nature and Science because I browse the articles and the book or journal format still has many desirable features compared to downloaded MSS.

So, the question I am asking is if, rather than being available only to subscribers, if Nature and Science were open access and I, of course, would not cancel my subscription, would a library cancel their subscription? I had always assumed they would not -- the subscription provides a service and convenience -- but then I hadn't asked. If, in fact, libraries would not subscribe to print version if the electronic version is available free, this brings the OA revolution into sharp focus. One of the visions for the future is then a more or less paperless library with only monitors. Maybe this is obvious but, like I say, I didn't think that's what we are talking about.

Regards, RF
Richard D. Feinman, Professor of Biochemistry