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NOT SO, Re: pricing questions: perspective from a publisher

It is simply untrue of any title that "Libraries will continue to take it
regardless of any price hike". The example given is Brain research: I am
aware of ARL libraries that have canceled this $15,203 title, (let alone 4
year colleges that may once have gotten it--very few still do). It might
be correct to say that major medical school libraries will continue to
take it, but I am not even sure of this. To me (and to all biology
librarians I have ever spoken to), this title is in the prime example of a
title too large in both size and price, and too low in quality. Its
sections rank as follows in JCR in its category of neurobiology:

						1995	1996	1997
Brain Research Reviews				 5	4	4

Molecular Brain Research			29	30	46		

Brain Research					69	50	65

Developmental Brain Research			52	74	78

Cognitive Brain Research			55	80	94

Total titles included in category  		136	144	150

(I do not have the 98 data yet)

>From this data it can been seen that the Reviews section, (available
separately for $889), is a very important title, but that the others range
from fair to very poor.  (Note that the method of compiling JCR will
result in a certain confusion between the sections, but should not
invalidate the basic result.)

Other similar titles are in similar position.  I and many of my colleagues
are now increasingly willing on the basis of local use data to cancel
titles that may have been important in the past, but are not any longer in
our specific situation. Some examples: I have just realized that Pflugers
Archive--European journal of physiology was used in this library only 8
times last year for the 1990+ portion, and costs us $2838/yr. We will not
be subscribing next year, though if we had a medical school it probably
would have be used more, and we probably would continue. As a less obvious
case, Mutation research is perhaps the leading journal in its narrow
specialty, but it was used only 50 times here last year and cost $7787;
some libraries may find it worthwhile, but we are trying to see if we can
meet most of the need with just one of the sections.

It has been explained to me that even such standards as Nature have an
elastic demand. Yes, we will always get one, or maybe 2. But Princeton now
gets 7 print copies at $595 each, if it cost twice as much, we would
surely get fewer. And a typical small community college or medium size
public library might now not get it at all, but might if it cost the $159
that a personal subscription costs (and the publisher's marginal cost
cannot be higher than that).

David Goodman
Biology Librarian, and
Co-Chair, Electronic Journals Task Force
Princeton University Library
dgoodman@princeton.edu         http://www.princeton.edu/~biolib/
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627


Mulak, Tom wrote:
> Since I joined this very lively list server, I have shared some of the
> thought-provoking messages with my boss, the CEO of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
> publishers. Mary Ann has asked me to send this message to the list.
> Tom Mulak, VP, Electronic Journals Program, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
> I don't know how many subscriptions there are to Brain Research, but I can
> tell you that every publisher would be thrilled to have a journal like
> that. Libraries will continue to take it regardless of any price hike,
> which is absolutely astounding to me.  Its publisher knows very well that
> they can do whatever they please in terms of pricing because although they
> may lose some subscriptions, the journal's price increase will ensure more
> profits..
>         Pricing journals is a difficult issue and I'd love your input.
> For instance, some publishers, in pricing their on-line journals, are
> making the policy that the library must take all of them.  Personally, I
> would think that librarians would prefer to select them, journal by
> journal.  However, if libraries seem to capitulate to "you must take all",
> then it sends us a strong message that we should follow suit.
>           What do you think?
>           Recently, by the way, I was perusing Marcel Dekker's website and
> I was astonished at the library subscription rates.  Obviously libraries
> must be paying these prices, even though they are staggering.
>         Societies have this tremendous advantage of a not-for-profit tax
> status which provides significant savings.  They then use their money for
> all sorts of other perks like magnificent headquarters (you probably know
> about the New England Journal of Medicine move and the recent resignation
> of their editor in chief).  Because of all of their tax advantages and the
> strong subsidy that comes from membership dues, societies can price
> journals attractively.
>         Highly specialized journals often make an important contribution
> to the field as well as the literature, but because they have a small but
> critical readership, they do tend to be more expensive.  Still I believe
> publishers have responsibility to price them so that they recover costs,
> make some profit, but do not gouge the librarian.  I hope we are doing
> just that.
>         Look forward to your comments.
>           Mary Ann Liebert, president,
>         Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com)