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Re: Is it time to stop printing journals?

Scott Plutchak from UAB writes in his blog response:

"We certainly don't need to keep the print to satisfy our user 
base.  Two years ago we stopped getting any print for our 
ScienceDirect titles.  I did not get a single question, comment, 
or expression of concern from faculty or students.  We've reached 
the point where librarians tend to worry a lot more about the 
print than the people who use our libraries do."

I am curious to hear whether this is a commonly held sentiment. 
In other words, do the librarians on this list have the sense 
that their patrons are operating in a post-print world (not in 
the OA/PMC/Battle Royale sense of the term, but meaning have we 
outgrown print)?  If so, this would be a remarkable shift, and a 
remarkably quick one.  Certainly when I helped launch The 
Berkeley Electronic Press in 2000, print was sacrosanct.  The 
idea of a viable electronic-only journal publisher was met with 
feedback running the wide gamut from skepticism to scorn.  If 
this equation has indeed flipped in a matter of a half-dozen or 
so years, this ranks as one of the most important periods in 
scholarly communication history.

Best, Greg

Greg Tananbaum
(510) 295-7504

On 3/28/07, T Scott Plutchak <tscott@uab.edu> wrote:
> I've posted a reply to Mark's questions here:
> http://tscott.typepad.com/tsp/2007/03/no_more_print.html
> T. Scott Plutchak
> Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
> University of Alabama at Birmingham
> tscott@uab.edu
> -----Original Message-----
> [mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Mark Leader
> Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 5:08 PM
> To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> Subject: Is it time to stop printing journals?
> The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) is considering
> discontinuing the print version of its journal Molecular Biology
> of the Cell (MBC). We welcome comments from the library community
> about the value of print journals and the adequacy of LOCKSS,
> Portico, and PubMed Central as archives of electronic journals.
> We are also curious about whether librarians would be interested
> in a print-on-demand option for obtaining archival print copies
> if regular print subscriptions were discontinued.
> The impetus for discontinuing the print edition is a desire to reduce
> author charges, especially for color figures. The cost of producing the
> print edition greatly exceeds revenue from print subscriptions. Author
> charges (page charges and color charges) are the largest source of
> revenue for the journal. In effect, authors are subsidizing the print
> subscriptions.
> We suspect that it is not feasible to raise the print subscription rate
> enough to cover the cost of print. The many-fold increase in the
> subscription rate that would be required would likely launch a vicious
> cycle of declining subscriptions and escalating subscription rates and
> would be tantamount to discontinuing the print journal anyway, but in a
> sloppy, uncontrolled manner. The online version of MBC is the journal of
> record and is rich in material not found in print:
> More than 60% of the articles include supplemental data or videos
> online.  Since 2000, print subscriptions have been available only
> to institutions that also have online subscriptions (and to ASCB
> members, who receive access to the online journal as a benefit of
> membership).
> The online institutional subscription rate is on the low side:
> $578 for approximately 5400 pages per year.  The print
> subscription rate is ridiculously low:  an additional $83 for a
> U.S. institution.  For 2007, the rates were increased for the
> first time since 2002.  As we strive to maintain the journal's
> financial viability while maintaining a fair balance of revenue
> sources, we ve had to take a hard look at the value of the print
> journal, which seems to be expensive to produce and perhaps
> unnecessary. We have been soliciting comments from authors,
> editors, and ASCB members and would also like to hear from
> librarians.
> Thanks in advance for your advice!
> W. Mark Leader
> Director of Publications
> American Society for Cell Biology
> mleader@ascb.org