Re: Institutional versus personal subscriptions Belcher, Wendy 01 Jun 2006 22:25 UTC

Speaking as a small publisher, we charge a different rate for
individuals than for institutions because selling to libraries
represents a loss of revenue. That is, we assume that at least one,
probably more like six, and as many as 10 individuals won't buy the
journal because they can read it at the library. Since I have seen this
in action (a customer about to buy a subscription, then hearing that it
is at their library, and abandoning the purchase) it makes sense to me.

This is even more true for journals that appear in print and online, as
both are expensive processes for the publisher to maintain and yet
individuals are even less likely to buy a subscription if they know that
they don't have to leave their homes to read the journal. Indeed, the
institutional online subscription, I believe, will soon spell the end of
all individual subscriptions, which has real implications for
institutional subscription prices.

No doubt some publishers are taking advantage of libraries' tendency to
absorb price increases, but in our own instance I can honestly say that
we are not making a profit off our subscription prices ($195 for
institutions, $30 for individuals). Is it true that since our
audience/potential readers are among the poorest populations in the
United States (Latinos) we are not entirely above having the libraries
subsidize them a bit? Perhaps.

Wendy Belcher, Press Manager
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center