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Elsevier Web Editions Rollo Turner 06 Jul 2007 15:46 UTC


6 July 2007

Elsevier Web Editions

The decision by Elsevier earlier this year to withdraw their Web editions
for the 2008 subscription year is causing some confusion in the marketplace
when it comes to determining a replacement service for single subscriptions
to Elsevier journals.

In the old Web Editions a subscriber to an individual print journal could
obtain a site licence for an electronic version, the Web Edition, free of
charge. This electronic version was certainly limited and gave only one
year's electronic access on a rolling basis. This has now been replaced by
one of a variety of services from Elsevier, none of which are exactly
analogous to the old Web Editions. Specifically libraries face a choice
between Science Direct E-Selects (a single journal title purchased in
electronic format only on a multiple password basis rather than a site
licence), or a Science Direct Standard or Complete package (potentially a
somewhat more expensive option but with the virtue of a site licence). A
combined print and electronic subscription to single journal titles is no
longer on offer. Libraries must now pay the full rate for both the print and
the E-Select (electronic) option if they required both formats. This
separation of the print from the electronic also leaves European customer
open to Value Added Tax on the E-Select version which, depending on the EU
country involved could add substantially to the cost (17.5% in the UK, 19%
in Germany for example).

This has caused considerable confusion for both libraries and agents in this
renewal season. The situation is not helped by the fact that Elsevier's
policy is that they will not, in general, deal with subscription agents for
any electronic journal service. There are some exceptions to this general
rule for certain agents acting on behalf of specific customers in some
regions as decided by Elsevier, but not communicated to agents and customers
in advance. Agents are therefore unable to quote or provide much information
to libraries about the alternatives to Web Editions other than the standard
print subscription.

Whilst it is entirely up to Elsevier to decide how and to whom they sell
their products, the ASA believes that this model is not helpful to either
libraries or agents attempting to renew thousands of subscriptions at this
time of the year and may well result in the library having to pay
substantially more than previously to maintain a site licence for a single
subscription, or move to a potentially much more expensive package, or even
revert to print only on cost grounds.

The ASA therefore feels this needs to be brought to the attention of the
library community so that agents and librarians can work together to make
the best of what is now a difficult renewal period for Elsevier
subscriptions. We also believe that the difficulties faced by libraries in
renewing their single title Elsevier subscriptions should be communicated
both directly to Elsevier and also to their subscription agent. In this way
Elsevier may be left in no doubt of the difficulties this policy is causing
and consider revising their policy on web editions to enable single
subscription combinations with a site licence as well as the other options
on offer; and of course for libraries to choose their means of acquisition
using an agent if they so wish.

Further Information from

Rollo Turner
Secretary General
+ 44 (0)1494 534778


Rollo Turner
Secretary General
Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries
+44 (0)1494 534778