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Re: Costs of journals publishing

I would like to thank Kate Duff for drawing these figures to our

The lessons I draw from the figures below are these:

1. It is in the interests of both publishers and librarians to move away
from print as quickly as possible; dual provision is expensive. I happen
to think that electronic-only is in the best interests of users as well,
but they do not always see it that way yet!

2. A new relationship between publishers and librarians should be based
upon open discussion of pricing. Simply quoting a price without
information about what lies behind it leads to suspicion either of excess
profit-taking or of closing-down of choices for the purchaser. A
relationship which is based upon open-ness is far more likely to succeed.

Frederick J.Friend,                                                             
Director Scholarly Communication,                                               
c/o Graduate School,                                                            
University College London,                                                      
Gower Street,                                                                   
London WC1E 6BT,                                                                
Telephone +44 171 380 7090                                                      
Fax           +44 171 380 7043                                                  
E-mail       ucylfjf@ucl.ac.uk   or    f.friend@ucl.ac.uk                       
At 21:54 08/12/98 EST, you wrote:
>Following are some publicly available cost estimates, for both print &
>e-journals, that you might find interesting. All not-for-profits; I was
>unable to find any cost estimates from for-profit publishers.
>(Now here's my disclaimer: I work for The University of Chicago Press, but
>the interpretations below are my own & don't necessarily represent the
>views of my employer.)
>My interpretation:
>1) Published cost estimates are fairly consistent. For print journals,
>first-copy costs (editing, review, design, etc) are usually about 60-65%
>but can range up to 80%. Reproduction & distribution (variable costs) are
>about 20-30%, most of which is reproduction. The biggest discrepancy in
>published reports is in the way overhead (administration, warehousing,
>etc) is calculated & assigned to first-copy or variable costs.
>2) The costs of e-journals are more variable and depend upon the
>circulation of the e-journal, the size of the publishing program, the
>format used (e.g. SGML or PDF) and where in the production process e-files
>are generated, the extent of added value in the e-journal, and whether or
>not a print journal is retained.
>3) Publishers starting an e-journal can expect increased capital and IS
>costs, increased personnel costs, and probably increased marketing &
>customer service costs. They may see savings in editing & review costs &
>production costs, depending on the system they adopt. They will see large
>savings in reproduction & distribution costs ONLY IF they get rid of the
>print edition. If they offer both editions and lose large number of print
>subscriptions, the variable costs will go up significantly. Publishers
>with more e-journals are able to spread out the start-up costs more
>4) The costs of maintaining a print & electronic edition, assuming no
>major changes in subscriptions, typically range from about 90% of the
>print edition to about 110%, but there's a lot of variation. E-editions
>costing more than 110% may do so because they have significant added
>value; they increase access; they are priced to offset anticipated loss of
>print subs (if a choice is offered); there are high start-up costs.
>Kate Duff
>Special Projects Coordinator
>University of Chicago Press, Journals Division
>5720 S. Woodlawn Ave.
>Chicago, IL 60637 USA
>Tel: 773-702-7688
>Fax: 773-702-0694
>E-mail: kduff@journals.uchicago.edu