Re: Cost and Return of Electronic Scholarly Journals Ken Laws 09 Dec 1991 16:17 UTC
> From Stevan Harnad:
> I am not arguing for free distribution. The TRUE costs (and fair
> return) of producing electronic scholarly-journals should certainly be
> recovered (i.e., the costs of the editorial office, the costs of disk
> storage, and the costs of sending/receiving email ...
> If and when the American Psychological Association elects to charge for
> each individual subscription to PSYCOLOQUY, my estimate is that (if the
> highways continue to be free) it will cost each subscriber about 5 cents
> a year (based on the current Listserv subscribership of 2500 --
> and a good deal less if we use the Usenet "library subscriber" figure
> of 15,000). What much larger costs and return the AAAS/OCLC are
> recovering with their projected price of $105.00 per subscriber for
> their future journal, I leave as a puzzle for the reader.
I don't understand. You have a staff that will work for $125 per year,
less the cost of facilities and supplies? Perhaps PSYCOLOQUY can be
run as a hobby, or subsidized by your employer, but few scientific
journals can operate that way. Hooray for those that can, and let
the marketplace decide. But if 2,500 readers want the services of
a full-time reporter/editor/consultant/clerk like myself, even operating
out of a home office, they're going to have to pay a full-time salary.
Printed newsletters find that it takes one full-time clerk per 1,000
subscribers -- and you incur that cost even if you charge only $.05
per year. With efficient computer support and using email only, you
can support a much larger readership -- but someone has to pay for the
computers and their maintenance. I don't know how automated the
AAAS/OCLC journal is, but I suppose that they currently have to deal
with advertising, billing, address changes, renewals, and all the other
hassles that attend a commercial operation. Plus software development
and distribution for their interface. Perhaps even hardcopy distribution
to people off the net. Then there's the notion of fair profit,
which is necessary if you want people to take the risk of setting
up new services like this.
Bitnet lists are nice, but quality journals like PSYCHOLOQUY (and my
own Computists' Communique) don't fall out of a discussion stream.
There are costs, and they must be distributed among those who wish
the service. The more specific the service is to a subscriber's
needs, the smaller the customer base and the higher the cost.