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Re: Cost of Electronic Resources - a pricing model

At 07:57 6/02/97 -0500, you wrote:

>Just a brief answer from a publisher of CD-ROM titles and Online
>subscription services of technical material.
>When we stared to define a pricing model for electronic publications in
>1992, we very quickly came to the conclusion that pricing based upon the
>number of simultaneous users is non of interest for many reasons.
>Similarly, the number of terminals or workstations connected to network of
>a company or organisation (some of them are world-wide networks across
>subsidiaries) are not meaningful in estimating usage of information
>So we established a pricing model, which is based upon the number of users
>as indicated by our customers in the Licence Agreement. The price is than
>simply calculated by multiplying the single uses price with a factor,
>which is a function of the number of users.
>Our current table is as follows:


>As for Libraries, we do not have an answer. I hope to get some suggestion
> from you, what could be a basis for estimating the number of users of a
>given electronic publication. For the time being, we gave a 40% discount
>to libraries of educational institution on our online subscription

I am an academic librarian and I appreciate that as a publisher you ask
for my opinion. 

It seems that publishers now consider information as mere goods.  The more
you buy, the more you pay. If a person is reading, the library pays once;
if ten persons are reading, the library pays ten times, sometimes less
because of a discount, just like if our students are eating hot-dogs. 

In fact librarians do not endorse such a quantitative treatment of an
information product. When librarians buy books or periodicals, they do not
buy something they can estimate the price on a linear scale. They buy a
support for ideas. The value is for ideas and not for paper, board and
ink, now bits and telecommunication lines. 

Of course, I know that paper and telecommunication lines are costly and
that a publisher has to get money for them plus a reasonnable profit I do
not object. 

What I object is that the system is now completely perverted. We are
obliged in the academia to buy at quite unreasonnable prices ideas which
we are working hard to put on paper or in bits. People in research are
under stress to produce more and more papers knowing that many of them
will not be read by anybody but whether read or not, will make big revenue
to the publisher (not all publishers, some of them, but they think great). 

Libraries exist to offer education and culture to those who have not a
private access to them. When a library in a University buy one copy of a
periodical or a book, its access is open to any staff or student who come
in. I think that such a model has to be retained in a society where
electronic support will replace the printed one. If we do not succeed in
negociating such an agreement between publishers and libraries, we prepare
a future of discrimination. 

Please excuse my English and consider that this is my own opinion and not
that of my University. 

Simone JEROME, Librarian
University of Liege
Institute of chemistry B6
4000 Sart Tilman (Liege 1)
former address :
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