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Re: American Society for Microbiology

The situation with the American Society for Microbiology is particularly
unfortunate, but is, in my opinion, an illustration of what can happen
when a publisher does not understand the world of the Internet, can not
adapt their rigid thinking to a new way of doing things, and, worst of all
for a non-profit society publisher, loses sight of the fact that their
prime goal should be to make information available to the community they

As the person who led the American Astronomical Society into the on-line
world, I am particularly disappointed that the ASM seems more intent upon
preserving the print subscriptions, and the income they represent, than
they do with utilizing the electronic medium to distribute the information
more widely. Ironically, the restrictive licensing policies and the
exorbitant 30% add-on for the electronic version seem specifically
designed to make the electronic version fail.

At the very least, such policies are indicative of a complete lack of
understanding of what the electronic information age should mean for
society publishers. If I were considering adding the electronic license, I
would take this as a warning to look carefully at the features of the
on-line journal, the ability and willingness maintain the archive at a
reasonable cost, and the ability and commitment to keep the journal
refreshed electronically as the browsers and access tools continue to
develop.  Although I have not looked at their journal, I find it difficult
to believe that an organization which shows such an appalling lack of
understanding of the fundamentals of the electronic world could produce an
electronic version which is fundamentally worth paying 30%extra for.

I would think the ASM members would be worried about their society. And I
caution librarians to assess their electronic journal carefully before
signing up for it.  I would be happy to discuss this off line in more

Dr. Peter B. Boyce, Chercheur Associe, 
Centre Donnees de astronomique de Strasbourg, France
               --  boyce@cdsxb6.u-strasbg.fr
and Senior Consultant for Electronic Publishing              
American Astronomical Society
              --   pboyce@aas.org    --  http://www.aas.org/~pboyce