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Hybrid Journal pricing (II): when and by how much will we see EMBO prices decrease?

Hybrid Journal pricing (II): when and by how much will we see 
EMBO prices decrease?

Summary: When EMBO moved its flagship EMBO Journal + Reports from 
OUP to NPG in 2003/04, research libraries suffered from an 
excessive price hike by a factor 2 or more. In Dec 2006 EMBO & 
NPG announced the availability of an Open access option for 
authors (EMBO Open). Also, it was announced that the site license 
pricing model for the EMBO package would move to a mixed revenue 
model if subscription charges and publication fees, with the site 
license price to be adjusted adjusted "in line with the amount of 
subscription content published annually".

Based on an analysis of EMBO's publication output 2001 -- 2009 
from both journals, we find that -- as the net result of a 
decrease in the total number of published articles and an 
increase in the number of articles published and paid for under 
the EMBO Open program, a decrease in the amount of subscription 
content published annually of 17% in 2007 (relative to 2006), and 
29% in 2008 (relative to 2007, or even 42% relative to 2006). On 
the other hand, for 2009, as a result of editorial policy changes 
made by EMBO (they have increased the number of invited 
commentaries and commissioned review articles, also those 
assembled in focus issues), we predict an increase of 24% for 
2009 relative to 2008, but still a 27% decrease relative to 2006.

EMBO Open uptake for original articles itself started at 4% in 
2007, and is now around 15% (value for 2008 was 16%, estimate for 
2009 is 14%). Total estimated revenue from EMBO Open publication 
fees for 2007 -- 2009 has already surpassed GBP 200,000. EMBO / 
NPG failed to make a price adjustment for 2009; we now expect 
that they stick to their promise from Dec 2006 and finally lower 
their site license price by about 1/3. Since the first adjustment 
was left out, an upward adjustment for 2011 should not be 
necessary and the price could remain the same as the adjusted 
price for 2010. Apart from this compensatory measure, we do not 
believe that year to year fluctuations should be "averaged out", 
as this would make pricing intransparent and set a wrong market 
signal. If publishers like NPG/EMBO do not keep their promise to 
adjust their pricing in response to increased OA uptake and 
published output, we in effect have an additional revenue model, 
not a mixed revenue model. In this case, universities who have 
installed an open access fund, should indeed ask themselves 
whether such journals should not be excluded from their gold OA 
funding on a matter of principle.

For the full paper, cf.


Bernd-Christoph Kaemper, Stuttgart University Library