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RE: Article based subscription

At 13:42 09/12/1999 -0400, Bernie Sloan wrote:
 >I think David Goodman's proposal has merit: buy by the drink until you've
 >paid the equivalent of a subscription, with further articles from that
 >title being free.

Dream on.  Such a pay-per-article certainly would save libraries thousands
of dollars every year (given that the articles were reasonably priced, of
course) but it would put most publishers out of business (and make our own
budget needs very hard to estimate).  The majority of articles in any
library go unread and an even bigger percentage go uncited by any single
university's scholarly authors.  Don't look for any major publisher to
offer a pay-by-article contract within our lifetimes, unless it is at a
price per article comparable to a full journal subscription.  This would
be little help.  Publishers are dependent on libraries to provide them
with fixed subscription revenues. Without this guaranteed income, they
simply couldn't survive.

Such a policy would also inhibit serendipity and the casual scanning of
articles that most researchers find invaluable. Indeed, having a journal
in hand to thumb through is of real value, especially those specific to
your field of interest.  Database searches are simply not an adequate
alternative for browsing.

Alternative models might be possible to come up with though, such as once
a threshold of subscriptions was achieved by a library, then other
journals published by that publisher might be made available on a
pay-per-article basis at relatively low cost per article (e.g. $10 each).  
This, too, is probably naive but it sounds as if the PEAK program might be
toying with some components of such a scheme with their idea of possibly
selling individual articles to PEAK subscribing libraries from
non-subscribed journals (if I understand them correctly). It would also
provide some additional revenue stream for articles that currently are
obtained through ILL at a higher price than that, and with none of this
money going back to the publisher.

This is not meant as an alternative to fair use access, however, and such
a system could start us on a slippery slope in that direction.  The issues
here are complex, to say the least.