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follow up on Science Online access and pricing issues


You are correct that institutional usage reports will not include
information about how personal subscribers accessed the system. However,
personal subscribers who accessed Science Online through one of the
institution's IP addresses would still be counted in the institution's
access numbers, just not identified as personal subscribers. And of
course, other sorts of personal use of the system--either from computers
outside your network or for services (like citation alerts) not included
in the institutional service packages--will not be included in an
institution's usage reports because they are not properly the
institution's business.

And just a word on developing other models. I seriously doubt you will
find another website for a scientific journal that offers more ways of
getting at the content than Science, and a wider variety of pricing
arrangements. We have, as you have noted, both personal subscriptions to
Science Online and institutional subscriptions in the library workstation
and site wide model.  We also have a pay-per-view system whereby an
individual can purchase a single article for $5, or access to the *entire
site* for one day for $10.  And we continue to develop other access
models, which I can't go into here, because they are not ready for prime
time! I realize all this choice makes things terribly complex, but in the
end, I suspect that a journal with such a broad base of readers as Science
can do no less than provide choices which address different market

Now, about pricing: Lloyd, I've pointed out before, and will undoubtedly
do so again, that it is simply inaccurate to say that Science Online
pricing is set to insure AAAS against the potential loss of personal
subscriptions to the print product. In fact, we depend far more heavily on
personal subscriptions for revenue than we do on libraries (which I
realize is not the usual case in scientific publishing), and I assure you,
if we set the prices to cover our potential personal subscription losses,
they would be much higher. It might be reasonably said that there is a
'risk premium' included in the pricing, but mainly that is just
'insurance' against the loss of *library* subscriptions to print, not
personal subs (which is why we provide some discounting, though a moderate
amount, to libraries that agree to retain print). The far more important
driver of the pricing is still the projected size of the 'buyer' market
for site-wide access to Science Online. It is a smallish market, though we
are very pleased with the progress we have made in bringing Science Online
to institutions during this year.

I realize that, whatever the *reasons* for the pricing, there are
organizations that simply can't afford the prices we set. So I don't mean
at all to seem confrontational or insensitive about the difficulty it
poses for some libraries. During 1999, we have also been exploring ways to
bring the prices for site-wide access down. We work with consortia, and
have been able to provide substantial discounts under some circumstances
(generally, when the group really acts as one buyer, and when it contains
a substantial number of smaller organizations, the discount will be
steepest). We also are prepared to discuss some discounts for libraries
that agree to maintain a number of print institutional subscriptions. In
2000, there will be no price increase, though we continue to enrich the
product. Also in 2000, we hope to begin trying out package buys, where
institutions that need a whole range of products from AAAS--print Science,
Science Online, Science's Next Wave, and (coming soon!) the Signal
Transduction Knowledge Environment--would receive one price that provides
a much better rate than the sum of all the list prices for those products
(but we're not quite ready for this yet, folks!).  And one other thing:
we're looking very seriously at both interim and long-term solutions to
the archiving problem, which we would expect to provide to site-wide users
at no additional charge. In short, we're doing what we can, considering
the relatively small size of the market that needs site-wide access, to
keep Science Online prices reachable.

Mike Spinella

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Nature's Access Restrictions
Author:  Lloyd Davidson <Ldavids@nwu.edu> at Internet
Date:    10/18/99 9:26 PM

Yes, I should have noted that single station access for Science was the 
only option we could afford, not the only one available.  It is simply 
that the other, more generous, licensing arrangements that Science offers 
were, for us, prohibitively expensive.  Science is, of course, trying to 
protect erosion of their large base of individual subscribers, on which 
their advertising income is based, an issue I certainly can sympathize 
with.  This is a general issue that really needs to be addressed 
immediately by all sides, libraries, subscribers and publishers, as it 
affects a number of publishers and journals.

It would be most helpful for the cause of scholarly communication if 
Science and Nature, in particular, were able to design subscription plans 
around a single standard that would provide affordable access for 
libraries and still give incentive for individual subscribers to 
subscribe. Value added access for individual subscribers is one 
possibility.  Geographically limiting access and limiting the number of 
simultaneous users are others.  While degrading library access is hurtful 
to academic libraries, it might be made more palatable if individual 
librarians were allowed to provide full access for the occasional 
emergency request.  Unfortunately, most publishers do not seem to be 
willing to work with librarians to design access policies and licenses 
that are adequately mutually beneficial. It will, clearly, take some 
inventive design of licenses and access policies to overcome the 
difficulties both sides are experiencing during this period of 
transformation from print to electronic journal subscriptions.

Perhaps the trusted system model could provide some solutions to this 
quandary.  We don't know because, as far as I am aware, no one has 
explored this, although I would be surprised if Elsevier and other 
publishers were not studying publisher-controlled technological fixes to 
the problem of access control (digital rights management systems like 
DigiBox or Cryptolope, for example).  The recent addition of ContentGuard 
to some publishers' PDF files is indicative of what industry is doing in 
this area.  I would argue that making access prohibitively expensive for 
many libraries is not the best long-term solution.  Libraries and 
publishers are mutually dependent and weakening one weakens both.

The Science usage reports provided by AAAS are, by the way, interesting 
but I don't believe they provide information about how those members of 
the institution who access Science through their individual subscription 
logons use this popular journal.  I suspect that, at Northwestern at 
least, most use of the online version is by individual subscribers (mainly 
faculty, graduate students and post docs) who logon through their personal 
accounts from their offices rather than by way of our public Science 
dedicated terminals.

As a personal subscriber to Science, I only have to pay an additional $15 
or so a year for full access to its online version from any terminal I can 
get to the Internet on (as long as I remember by logon ID and password), a 
feature I utilize frequently.  I certainly don't expect Science to provide 
this level of access to libraries, but surely we could come up with a 
reasonable service package that would satisfy all parties if we worked 
together to design one.