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American Chemical Society: important changes to its journals

American Chemical Society describes important publication changes 
to its journals
Press release available at:

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2009 -- With its customers expressing strong 
preferences for accessing research advances online, rather than 
in print, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Publications 
Division is pursuing a series of product, platform and pricing 
initiatives in 2009-2010 designed to meet the information demands 
of scientific readers and the research libraries that support 
them. ACS publishes 36 highly regarded peer-reviewed journals and 
a weekly news and industry magazine, Chemical & Engineering News, 
in print and digital formats. In 2009, ACS Publications' Web 
platform was awarded Best eProduct, Website or Platform of 2008 
by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the 
Association of American Publishers.

Key among the changes is an immediate shift from traditional size 
print to a novel "rotated and condensed" print format that will 
be used for most of the Society's publications. Three ACS titles 
-- the flagship Journal of the American Chemical Society (the 
most cited journal in chemistry), Chemical Reviews (the highest 
impact factor journal in chemistry) and Accounts of Chemical 
Research -- will remain in their traditional format. The weekly 
magazine Chemical & Engineering News, which is subscribed to by 
the Society's base of 154,000 members, will also remain in its 
traditional format. In addition, effective in 2010, ACS will end 
two discount programs, one for libraries and one for its members, 
applicable solely to its print-format journals. The Society will 
maintain its practice of offering deeply discounted electronic 
subscriptions as a benefit to it members. It has also announced a 
time-limited, print-to-digital upgrade program in 2009 to further 
assist customers in controlling costs, ending subscription 
duplication, and transitioning to ACS' award-winning Web 

Susan King, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Journals Publishing 
Group, notes that most subscribers and readers now prefer to 
access ACS journals online. Nonetheless, the cost reductions 
associated with the move to a new two-up, rotated and condensed 
print format will enable the Society to extend the viability of 
the printed format to institutional customers whose users 
continue to demand that  medium, she says. In order to share the 
cost-saving benefits of the new format with library customers, 
ACS has announced plans to keep prices flat on its print journals 
for 2010. What the Society elects to do thereafter will depend on 
market conditions and customer demand during the next 12-18 
months, King reports.

Brandon Nordin, ACS Publications' Vice President of Sales, 
Marketing, and Web Innovation, cited two interconnected trends 
driving the changes. One is the decade-long shift in preference 
to the Internet for time-sensitive creation and delivery of 
journal content. The other is the economic downturn that has 
particularly squeezed budgets of institutional libraries since 
2008. "Earlier this year we were asked by consortia representing 
our largest customers worldwide to think creatively to help 
libraries retain access to highly valued content essential to 
research in the face of a flat-to-down funding environment," 
Nordin says. "Reducing print publishing costs allows us to focus 
resources on the ACS Web Editions preferred by the majority of 
our customers and readers," he notes. To further illustrate the 
point, Nordin points out that while total print subscriptions 
typically number in the hundreds per journal title, ACS services 
more than 70 million article requests a year online.

In briefing customers about the format change, ACS also announced 
a Print-to-Digital upgrade program for its institutional library 
customers. This program credits customers who cancel their 
discounted print subscriptions before Sept. 30, 2009, with a 
rebate equivalent to 30 percent of their 2009 print purchases to 
be applied to their 2010 ACS Web Editions renewals. Several of 
ACS' largest customers have already taken advantage of this 
program. "Most institutions find their users prefer the easily 
searched, 24/7-accessible, and quickly accessed Web editions of 
journals. Librarians are further attracted to the more attractive 
pricing and low cost per use of ACS Web Editions. ACS will 
continue to monitor both readers' views and library customers' 
purchase patterns to determine its future product media and 
formats," Nordin explained. "But for today, and throughout 2010, 
online access and print subscriptions both remain options for ACS 
customers to select based on their own preferences," he 
emphasized. "Unfortunately this move has been misinterpreted in 
several blogs -- and subsequently picked up in mainstream media 
outlets -- and then erroneously reported as a complete end to ACS 
print-based journal distribution. Such assertions are incorrect."

Reader reaction to the print format change has been muted thus 
far, King says. Most admit they seldom, if ever, use the print 
versions beyond scanning the table of contents. Indeed, for every 
comment received expressing concern about the reduced size and 
legibility of the condensed format, others suggest ACS is not 
moving to an all Web-and-mobile digital publishing mode quickly 
enough, she notes.

  ACS Publications issued the following summary clarifications 
regarding its recently announced actions:

*  All ACS journals will continue to be available in print, with 
most in the new condensed print format. Three ACS journals, the 
Journal of the American Chemical Society, Chemical Reviews and 
Accounts of Chemical Research, will remain unchanged throughout 
2010, as will Chemical & Engineering News.

*  Condensed printing rotates pages into =8Clandscape' mode and 
displays two pages per physical printed page. This maintains 
approximately 70 percent of each standard page image. Researchers 
frequently elect a similar option when printing digital PDF 
documents in Adobe's popular Adobe Reader, to save themselves 
both printer costs and paper, and to enhance document 
portability. More information about ACS condensed print is 
available here: 

*  In evaluating its actions, ACS Publications was guided by its 
customers and readers. Over the last decade and half, since ACS 
introduced its first online journals, users and subscriptions 
have been migrating to a Web-delivered experience. This trend has 
accelerated in the last three years, fundamentally changing the 
economics of printing and distribution for the Society's 

*  Beginning in 2010, ACS will no longer extend the special sales 
program that offered institutions a deeply discounted print rate 
as an adjunct to their Web editions purchases. This program, 
originally introduced to help buffer libraries from the costs of 
maintaining duplicate subscriptions in print and digital format, 
represented less than 10 percent of ACS library subscriptions in 
2009, and was no longer cost-effective to maintain.

*  Similarly, given market data showing the majority of its 
active member users preferred to access scientific research via 
the Web, ACS is ending its discount on print editions that had 
been maintained as a special benefit for ACS members. The Society 
will continue its popular practice of offering members discounted 
subscription access to Web editions of journals on a 
title-by-title basis for personal, non-commercial use.

Additional information about these changes, including guidance 
for customers interested in taking advantage of the 2009 sales 
incentive programs for early renewal of 2010 electronic 
subscription licenses, is available here: 

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization 
chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 154,000 members, 
ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader 
in providing access to chemistry-related research through its 
multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific 
conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and 
Columbus, Ohio.