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Re: pricing questions

A brief addendum and correction to my previous reply to Davidson's
comments on BRAIN RESEARCH subscription prices versus those of the JOURNAL
OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY.  I did not scroll down far enough in reading
Davidson's text to see his quotation of the circulation figures for JBC as
6,000. I had cautiously guessed that the figure had to be at least 2,000
to 3,000 to be on the safe side. His figure, which I accept, simply
reinforces my argument about the price discrepancy between the two

Incidentally, it is useful to know that U.S postal regulations require
every magazine/journal mailed via low second class postal rates to publish
a sworn statement of its paid circulation, averaged over a 12 month
period, at least once a year in the publication itself.  Failure to do so
means the publication risks losing its second class postage permit, and
the great savings that the second class rate provides in the US. This
statement is often printed on the last page of an issue where it is most
likely to be missed by readers. The U.S. Postal Service periodically sends
an inspector to the publisher's office to review circulation figures, and
discrepancies can lead to the loss of the precious permit. If one wants to
know the accurate circulation figures of a journal, therefore, one does
not need Ulrich's, aside from the convenience of having information in one
handy package.  In fact, that publication's circulation figures are likely
to be somewhat out of date in comparison with those in the printed
statements in the publications themselves.

One last point about BRAIN RESEARCH usage and readership. As a trained
neuroscientist myself, with many neuroscientist friends, I can report that
a surprising number of them say that while they seek the publication of
their important research papers in that distinguished journal, they do not
often take out issues to browse and read. They seem to treat it as the
preferred archive for their work, and send out reprints (or photocopies or
emailed copies) of their articles to their colleagues in their specialized
area of investigation. They may obtain selected articles to read by
following citations in the Life Sciences section of CURRENT CONTENTS, by
looking up the table of contents pages of issues on the Internet, by
noting cited articles in the bibliographies of other publications, or they
may just receive copies from the authors of the articles.  All of which
adds up to yet another good argument for turning this archival journal
into a computerized database.

Alan M. Edelson, Ph.D.
(retired) President and CEO,
J.B. Lippincott Co.


Lloyd Davidson wrote:

> I have a great deal of respect for Karen Hunter, who is an excellent and
> fair spokesperson for Elsevier, and I have no idea what production costs
> are for Brain Research, or whether it is, in fact, overpriced based on its
> production costs.  I would note, however, that the Journal of Biological
> Chemistry (JBC) publishes twice as many pages as Brain Research,
> approximately 36,000/year, and yet costs only about $1,600/year, or 10% as
> much as Brain Research's $15,000.  Its pages cost, therefore, about $.05
> each, compared to Brain Research's $1.00/page.  How is it possible for
> production and mailing costs of these two journals to differ by a factor
> of 20 times?  I would like to see a better explanation of why there should
> be such a price discrepancy between them, confirmed by an independent
> auditor, before I could agree that the subscription price for Brain
> Research is fully justified.
> JBC also has a significantly higher impact factor than Brain Research and
> a circulation of about 6,000, a figure publicly posted on Ulrich's and in
> its journal.
> As to its use, I find it hard to believe (though I have no firm data) that
> each issue of Brain Research is read by 40 researchers at Northwestern, in
> spite of the fact that we have a major Neurosciences department here.  It
> was this department, after all, that seriously proposed that we consider
> dropping our subscription to this journal, which they considered
> overpriced for the use they make of it, a suggestion I have so far
> resisted.  If Elsevier can truly demonstrate that there are "... an
> average of 40 scientists/students using each subscribed copy", then surely
> these 40,000 to 60,000 or more readers should serve as a major enticement
> for advertiser dollars.
> Of course Brain Research is a favorite whipping boy, as Karen correctly
> calls it.  The fact that it is the most expensive life sciences journal in
> most library collections guarantees that it will catch the attention of
> every bibliographer and university cost accountant.  The fact that its
> circulation figures and production costs are confidential merely makes it
> that much more obvious as a target and leads to speculation in a vacuum.
> I sincerely appreciate the information that its circulation figures are
> closer to 1,500 than 10,000, if that is what Karen meant to say. There is
> a feeling among many librarians, myself included, that Elsevier takes a
> high-handed approach in its dealing with us, and that leads to an
> unfortunate undercurrent of resentment and distrust.  Perhaps some of the
> changes that seem to be occurring in the PEAK program, and the better data
> that could become available about actual use of the electronic versions of
> Brain Research and other journals, will help to allay some of these
> antagonisms and lead to a more positive and mutually beneficial
> relationship between libraries and commercial publishers in general.
> Lloyd A. Davidson
> Life Sciences Librarian and Head, Access Services
> Seeley G. Mudd Library for Science and Engineering
> 2233 N. Campus Drive
> Northwestern University
> Evanston, IL  60208
> Ldavids@nwu.edu  (847)491-2906 (Voice)   1-847-556-0436 (fax)
> _____________
> At 01:20 09/21/1999 -0400, you wrote:
> >At Elsevier Science we have almost become used to the fact that Brain
> >Research is the frequent "whipping boy" for those who like to make
> >comments about journal pricing.  However, recent misinformation and
> >speculation on this list calls for a response.
> >
> >- While circulation figures are confidential, the notion that there could
> >be 10,000 subscribers can only be described "in your dreams".  In general,
> >stm journals (such as Brain Research) that have no society base have
> >between 1000 and 1500 subscribers.  The more expensive the journal, the
> >more likely it has been subject to cancellations (although Brain Research
> >also continues to add some new subscribers).
> >
> >- We have no policy against advertising.  Indeed, we actively solicit
> >advertising.  However, no advertiser wants to pay for an ad in a journal
> >that goes only to libraries (as Brain Research and most of our journals
> >do). The journal must have a large individual subscriber base (normally in
> >the tens of thousands) to attract advertisers.
> >
> >- Brain Research publishes about 18,000 pages per year, so the price is
> >less than $1/page.  It also rejects more than half of the manuscripts
> >submitted to it.
> >
> >- Our studies of the paper version show an average of 40
> >scientists/students using each subscribed copy.
> >
> >- The usage figures online (ScienceDirect) are outstandingly high.
> >
> >- Elsevier Science made a major announcement this spring on pricing.
> >Starting with the subscription year 2000, we will take far more of the
> >price risks associated with currency fluctuations, cost increases, page
> >growth and the effects of cancellations.  We commit that libraries will
> >have less than a 10% annual increase, regardless of these inflationary
> >factors.  (In 2000 the increase is 7.5%; without the new policy, it would
> >have been about twice that in the U.S., for example.)  No other publisher
> >has made a commitment to giving libraries this level of price stability.
> >
> >- Finally, Brain Research authors benefit in a large number of ways: 50
> >free reprints; assurance that their articles will be available
> >electronically for the first nine monrths after publication at no charge
> >to paper subscribers (and permanently to electronic subscribers); the
> >lowest color rates in neuroscience journals; personal free access to
> >related electronic services; no page charges; and the benefits of
> >SMARTWorks, the first life science electronic submission and peer review
> >software (developed through our investments).
> >
> >I could go on, but the point I want to make is that Brain Research is
> >respected by editors, authors and readers. This is not by accident.
> >Publishing is not something that just "happens".  Those who criticize the
> >journal should also consider the hundreds of scientists and the publishing
> >team who believe in the journal and work to make it succeed.
> >
> >Karen Hunter
> >Senior Vice President
> >Elsevier Science
> >k.hunter@elsevier.com