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 <NobleStation@compuserve.com> on 14 Jun 2000 Skwor, Jeanette <skworj@UWGB.EDU> wrote: > Subject: Re: Scholarly Publishing Principles -- Dan Lester [snip] > > > > 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 arrogance. Albert Henderson Editor, PUBLISHING RESEARCH QUARTERLY 1994-2000 <email@example.com> . . .