[NHC List] Alarming Jrnl Pricing trends: Small
societies: ASLO & Wildlife Society publications
dgoodman at Princeton.EDU
Wed Nov 9 14:29:01 PST 2005
It is entirely reasonable to suggest that publications of relatively
small circulation be published electronically only.
Though this was not specifically the topic of
any of the Charleston sessions I attended, it was in the background or
otherwise assumed in many. I would be glad to hear off line
from anyone who attended a session where it was challenged.
In various informal discussions, it was often said and always agreed
that electronic publication would very soon become the basis of publication,
and that publishers and libraries would both save thereby.
This does not mean there would be no print copies. One suggestion
frequently expressed was that print
copies could be supplied as a separate product from specialized
short-run publishers, similarly to the way microfilm is typically produced
and sold. The original publisher would presumably get
a share of the proceeds. It was sometimes assumed that this version
would be priced differently to subscribers or non-subscribers to the electronic version.
Another way to look at it has been in the context of Open Access. There has been much discussion of the ways in which
a publisher could find funds
other than author charges to partially finance OA Journals. This should be of particular interest to authors in many
BioOne journals, as most such fields
do not typically attract large grants that could be used to pay such charges.
One option that has been suggested is for there to also be a print edition,
priced considerably higher than its actual differential cost. The
relatively few libraries with truly archival and comprehensive collections in
any particular specialty would have both the money to buy them and the money to preserve them. (This is compatible
either with production by the publisher,
or by specialized printers.)
There are obvious difficulties in coordinating the libraries, as many libraries aim
to be archival and comprehensive in a subject, but do not actually have the funding on a continuing basis to do this. The
virtue of this is that, in addition to the multiple mirrors and LOCKESS arrangements for archiving electronic versions, it is
always desirable to have another medium as well.
I recognize the problems that the Open Access environment gives for organizations like BioOne. BioOne does not
produce content, it merely formats and redistributes it, and relies upon the costs of publishing that content to be paid for
otherwise. I see no solution except re-establishing the relationship between BioOne, Allen Press, and the societies, on a
completely different basis, probably replacing subscription charges with organizational subsidy.
In our context, i suggest that this could be accomplished by having each individual journal published by a particular
department or museum, and then distributed OA. A considerably simplified structure could do this, as there would be no
subscribers and no access control. Instead of returning funds to the societies, it would be subsidized by them and the
departments. Allen Press would then be ideally situated for the specialized production of print versions.
I immunize myself against the obvious attack that I have not worked out the details, by admitting as much. It is perhaps
not a solution to be adopted for the 2006 subscription year. But consider the threat to our journals expressed by the
previous postings. Left to themselves, things will not get better. I think OA for
a small journal would be a good target for 2007. The large journals characteristic of other subjects, and often produced
by commercial publishers, might need until 2008 to get it organized. The really large and expensive ones might not make
it at all, and I am not sure that many biology librarians will regret this.
This is not a solution that would hold for any large journal, but might be ideal for most in natural history. I see this
potentially opening up the distribution of our material to a wide range of libraries and individuals, publicizing natural
history, and attracting general public support. Our subjects once did--and some do still--attract many non=academics,
and facilitating such interest is perhaps the one single best thing we could do.
Dr. David Goodman
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University
Princeton University Library
dgoodman at liu.edu
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