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ACS (forwarded)

The following posting appeared on CHEMINF-L. I think it's of sufficient
interest and importance to this group that I've obtained the author's
permission to re-post it here: 

Forwarded message
>> Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 15:25:31 -0500
>> From: David Flaxbart <flaxbart@UTS.CC.UTEXAS.EDU>


>> A couple of months ago,
>> out of curiosity, I downloaded the 1996 ACS annual report, and I was
>> shocked to see how much of ACS' total revenues comes from "Information
>> Services" (eg Pubs and CAS),  and by how little comes from member dues.  Of
>> $285,725,000 in revenues that year,   *75.5%* or $215,750,000 came from
>> their publication and database arms.  Only 4% came from dues.  I've heard
>> that ACS members are adamant that their dues not go to support
>> publications, apart from C&EN, but obviously there's no danger of that
>> happening --  it's quite the other way around.
>> It's also clear that the lion's share of this Info revenue is coming from
>> academic libraries and corporate subscribers and searchers, who are in
>> effect subsidizing most of the activities of the entire Society.  I'd like
>> to see this broken down further, tho I'm sure ACS is equally eager to
>> conceal such numbers.  Particularly telling would be a comparison of the
>> revenues from personal vs institutional/full price subscribers.  Since ACS
>> defends its current web-journal site license prices partly with its fear
>> that personal subscribers would cancel (a highly dubious presumption in any
>> case), these numbers would probably show that personal subscriptions
>> account for a small percentage of journal revenue to begin with, and that
>> such losses would easily be made up with increased revenue from site
>> licenses -- even if offered at a much lower price.
>> I hesitate to blame Pubs or CAS for fully masterminding these strategies,
>> however.  With such a large chunk of cash coming from their information
>> businesses, the Board of Directors is certainly exerting considerable
>> pressure on any changes that may affect the bottom line.  This situation
>> illustrates why I tend to treat ACS as a commercial publisher, not a
>> "society" publisher exempt from criticism.  True, their journals are
>> cheaper and better than most of the competition, but they do compete in the
>> marketplace and behave in a market-driven fashion.  Libraries would do well
>> to recognize that fact and treat them accordingly.
David Goodman 
Biology Librarian, Princeton University Library
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627
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