Re: Author Page Charges

From: Steve Hitchcock (S.Hitchcock@ecs.soton.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Jul 27 1995 - 12:19:49 BST


>We need to work out a path to the inevitable in an amicable way.
>It can be done, but I don't think paying huge sums to "lease" the
>imprimatur of a prestigious paper journal is the most sensible
>way to do it...

Stevan, I haven't specified, or I hope implied, 'huge' payments to
publishers for, in effect, their cooperation or for the use of their
principal journal assets. My 'services' model is mainly intended to support
e-journal producers, but as far as publishers are concerned it is more a
'carrot and stick' approach. The royalty carrot is small; it is the stick
that is potentially huge because it is the risk of losing the paper revenue
that will cause publishers to look seriously at the alternatives. The stick,
the impending library crisis, is already there; I just advocate accelerating
its application by switching some of the current funding to provide an
incentive for the 'getting to THERE from HERE'.

Despite this I don't know if getting to THERE from HERE can be 'amicable',
as Paul's reply re. Elsevier, APS etc. indicates. The crucial issues are
money AND control, and in my view the free archive model will not work
without publishers giving up a lot of both. Publishers realize this, which
is why some have involved themselves in the defensive, diversionary and
apparently futile activities that Paul refers to. I am still amazed that
the APS, as a professional society, appears to have walked away from a
long-term golden opportunity. Why? It has no way of incorporating the
archive, on Paul's terms, in its current financial model, and its leaders do
not have the vision to produce a new one. So how cooperative can each side be?

The Ginsparg-inspired archive-journal plans possible page charges; these
charges are expected to be low because the editors have control and
therefore, so far, do not have any hidden commercial motives. My model
neither prescribes nor rules out page charges for e-journals, it gives
control of e-journals to the editors and has scope for cooperation with
publishers. Most publisher-controlled operations, even if free to the reader
and funded by page charges, will be poison for the free archive model and
will simply shift the burden of spiralling charges from reader or library to
authors or researchers. Publishers have demonstrated they cannot cut costs
significantly.

For those fields other than physics, the bottom line of cooperation, as
envisaged in my model, is to liberate editors, editorial boards etc., to
encourage them to transfer, or at least share, their loyalties from paper
journals to the electronic inheritors; ideally it would also enable, in some
form, the use of current journal identities, but only where necessary, to
maintain both academic continuity and the plurality referred to before. What
else is needed? The rest of the infrastructure can go, to be replaced by
something more suitable. This need not necessarily exclude reformed
publishers, but I regret that not many publishers currently have the will or
the skill to change in this way.

For academics the fall-back is presumably Ginsparg's non-cooperation 'do it'
approach rather than do nothing. The Ginsparg archive-journal looks likely
to set a powerful and influential precedent in this respect.

I don't underestimate the ability of publishers to buy their preferred
solutions, especially after last week's announcement, or to hold on to what
they have. But whichever way publishers look at the free archive model, the
future for paper journals and their profits is not good and the requirements
do not leave much room for cooperation. What cooperation there is should at
least have the appearance of giving something to publishers rather than just
taking away, and should be in a form, money, that publishers understand.

Steve



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