Re: Journal costs

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PHOENIX.PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2001 13:40:32 -0500

Mr. Smith raises an excellent point, and I apologize for not replying
more promptly. The positive feedback that has produced the destructive
vicious cycle in journal prices could work in the opposite
If a publisher were to refrain from increasing prices for a journal, then
that journal would probably lose very few subscriptions. If a publisher
were to decrease prices, then it might experience no loss in subscriptions
at all.

Regaining already lost subscriptions is a little harder. A really
substantial decease in prices might result in sufficient favorable
publicity that libraries that have recently discontinued would
re-subscribe. We've seen this year
one or two scientific societies who have done
just this, and I hope their effects will be rewarded.

I can personally promise that if any of the several hundred journals I
have needed to cancel in the last 10 years were to decrease their prices
by 25 or 50% and make this known to me, then if they were still relevant
to the academic program here I would resubscribe if at all possible.
Most of them are journals cancelled due to the high local cost/use
ratio, not the absence of use. This applies equally to commercial and
non-commercial titles.

David Goodman, Princeton University Biology Library 609-258-3235

On Mon, 29 Jan 2001, Arthur Smith wrote:

> David Goodman wrote:
> > [...]
> > 1/ We have continued the titles most needed, canceled appropriate titles, and
> > avoided getting the least needed. Rational journal selection is possible.
> >
> > 2/ The cost of buying the same titles as subscriptions
> > would be $382,000+$187,000-$30,000, which
> > is $539,000, which would add 123% to our journal budget.
> >
> > General note: This assumes everything is electronic, and ignores
> > storage, binding, and processing costs or savings.
> > [...]
> This is certainly true if it was just a matter of Princeton's biology
> library making the move alone to subscribe to everything. But at least
> for journals published by not-for-profit organizations, if every library
> subscribed to more journals there would be a very significant decrease
> in price per copy. If the APS had the same subscriber base we had 40
> years ago, the cost of our journals (per subscriber) would be perhaps
> 1/3 or 1/4 what it is now. This would be even more true for journals
> with much smaller circulation than ours. Just something to keep in mind
> in this debate - your costs would go up, but not 123% if everybody did
> it.
> Arthur Smith (
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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