Email list hosting service & mailing list manager

Re: Scholarly Publishing Principles -- Albert Henderson Stephen D. Clark 15 Jun 2000 15:28 UTC

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Scholarly Publishing Principles -- Jeanette Skwor
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 11:01:43 -0400
From: Albert Henderson <>

on 14 Jun 2000 Skwor, Jeanette <skworj@UWGB.EDU> wrote:

> Subject: Re: Scholarly Publishing Principles -- Dan Lester

> > > I find it difficult to explain five- and six-figure journal
> > > subscription prices to parents and students who are piling up large
> > > debts to pay tuition.
> >
> > I've not seen any six figure prices yet
> ***According to an article in the June issue of _College & Research
> Libraries News_, the _Journal of Comparative Neurology_ went from
> $1920 in 1985 to a current $15,000.  The article, which may be of
> interest to participants in this discussion, is "Create Change" by
> Ray English and Larry Hardesty, p. 515.

Thanks for bringing this up. The authors -- one of whom is
a SPARC steering committee member and the other president
of ACRL -- go on to make some unsupported assumptions and
wander into a never-never land of baseless conclusions.
They offer no source for claiming:

        "Commercial publishers have increased journal
        prices at extraordinary rates and they are
        realizing profit margins that go far beyond
        what could otherwise be justified by the
        nature of their product."

Without being familiar with the details of this particular
journal or its sale, I would easily suggest another
scenario based on my experience. First, why did the prior
owners sell? Perhaps the prior owners had not raised their
prices adequately thanks to the bitter complaints of
librarians about prices, and they were sinking in a sea of
red ink. Or, perhaps their subsididies were ending. Second,
the new owners set things right.

Too many publishers have responded to the library crisis
by underpricing in hopes of stemming the tide of canceled
orders; or, worse, they cut back on coverage and quality
-- in both instances damaging themselves as well as the
fundamental interests of research and education.

The hostile market discourages growth and new ventures.
It also encourages mergers and the acquisition of
marginal businesses by larger companies. The very
universities that manufactured the library
crisis, have used it to justify going into business
as SPARC with no real competition.

C&RL NEWS, in my opinion, has done no service to the
library profession or library patrons by circulating
this sort of propaganda. It is to me clear that the
authors are trying to peddle SPARC. Using the mantle
of authority of the ACRL to spew a commercially
motivated advertisement thinly disguised as an article
they have sunk pretty low, particularly when one
considers the malicious allegations they make about an
entire class of competitors.

Librarians who wish to create change that favors their
patrons and their profession must address the basic
abuse of library spending by administrations that have
identified librarians as "soft." We have ample data from
government sources showing it is the universities that
increased profit margins by 50% over the last 20 years
while cutting library spending in half! Private research
universities survive with a profit of 25% of revenue
"after taxes." You will also find administrations
increased their own share of spending substantially
while crying poverty -- the essence of bureaucratic

Albert Henderson