Re. Margo Warner Curl's comments on RoweCom Subscribe Richard R Rowe 02 Feb 1996 03:23 UTC

In reply to Margo Warner Curl's message on SERIALST, I am pleased to
address each of the five "concerns" she mentioned.  I hope these
responses are satisfactory and look forward to responding to other
comments and questions regarding Subscribe.  I can be reached at

Margo noted comments from others about Subscribe's attractive cost
savings and that Subscribe seems a "solid product."  I don't take issue
with either of these points.  In addition, she mentioned a number of
"concerns" about RoweCom.

1) Limited number of publishers.  Approximately 5,700 publishers are
involved in the 20,000 serials titles in the Subscribe catalog.  For the
beta test 87 publishers worldwide participated.  Only a few publishers
have requested paper checks.  There is no cost to publishers for the
software or the service and no risk.  Just about all of the major
publishers have expressed definite interest in Subscribe and are waiting
to see the response of libraries.  They have made it clear to us that if
this is a service libraries want, they will participate.

2) Limited number of libraries.  We limited our beta test to a small
number of libraries with whom we have worked closely in refining the
service.  The ten with whom we are now working in beta mode include San
Diego State, UC San Francisco Medical, UC Berkeley, UPittsburgh,
Carnegie Mellon, Ohio State, Mass General Hospital, Mass Eye and Ear
Infirmary, Yale Medical, and Westinghouse Electric.  Their responses to
the service have been uniformly positive.  The software is now in
production and ready for wide distribution and use.  Since ALA in San
Antonio, a large number of libraries have downloaded version 2.0 of
Subscribe from our web page.  Based on the responses of our betas sites
we expect many libraries will use Subsribe for their 1997 orders.

3) ILS interfaces.  INNOPAC libraries are not required to input manually
their titles into Subscribe.  Our partnership with Innovative
Interfaces, which we jointly announced at San Antonio, enables you to
perform a simple download of your serials titles from INNOPAC to
Subscribe with no manual entry.

In order to achieve transparency between an ILS and any subscription
service, four crucial links are needed:

..Order information  (ILS to Subscribe) is ready for III and SIRSI.
..Invoice information (Subscribe to ILS) is ready for III and SIRSI.
..Claims entry (ILS to Subscribe) is ready for III and SIRSI.
..Claims replies (Subscribe to ILS) INNOPAC at the moment has no place
in its system to record claims replies.  We are working with them on
this facility which will be supported by Subscribe.

We are eager to work closely with each of the major ILS vendors and
expect to have interfaces available for most of them in time for the
1997 orders, especially those systems which accept industry standard

Subscribe uses the x.12 and z.39 formats and Internet security systems
which are standard in the industry.  In no case should one need to do
more work with Subscribe than is done with a traditional agency that
uses these standard interfaces.  In fact, the work of managing your own
subscriptions with Subscribe is substantially less than with a
traditional agency.  There is no paper transfer and no re-keying risk
for your orders and claims.

4. Custom titles $10 fee.  RoweCom charges the *net* cost of a serial
(i.e. the discounted price which is usually about 5% below list) plus a
flat fee of $5. per subscription for every title in RoweCom's 20,000
title catalog.  "Custom," titles, which are not in the basic catalog,
will be added to the catalog for an additional $10 per title.  Provided
RoweCom has two or more orders for these titles in any one year, these
titles will be included in the standard catalog the following year and
will not have a surcharge.

It is easy to determine your cost savings with Subscribe.  You can use
Subscribe to create a "quote" which compares your traditional agency
cost (list plus a service charge that you specify) with RoweCom's cost.
In our experience so far, cost savings range from 5% to 9% compared with
traditional agencies.

5. Claiming.  The claiming system provides libraries with a
positive feedback loop from the publisher which, for the first time
ever, gives libraries automated feedback on the status of their claim.
The system can provide you with the dispatch date of the issue being
claimed. You also have in your system the publisher's confirmation of
order and payment.  That information automatically goes with any claim
you send.  Claims go over the Internet directly to the Internet address
specified by the publisher for receiving claims.  We have little
practical experience with Subscribe claiming since our first orders were
processed for 1996 and, so far, claims are few and far between.  With
Subscribe there should be fewer claims to begin with, since there are
fewer sources of error, and valid claims should be resolved much quicker
and easier than before.  In the event there is a problem that needs
RoweCom's attention, we have a client service representative available
on a toll free line from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.

6. Comparisons with INFOSERV.  In the early 80's Faxon led the way in
automating serials processesing.  INFOSERV was an early attempt to
reduce the cost of subscription processing and the number of times data
had to be processed and handed over.  Although in most respects there
are few resemblances between INFOSERV and Subscribe, Subscribe is, in a
sense, an extention of our earlier efforts to use information technology
to reduce the cost of serials acquisition and management.

Subscribe is a transformative service that helps you manage your own
subscriptions and saves you both time and money.  But, don't just take
my word for it.  Take a look at it yourself.  Its available and ready to
use.  Try it out with a few titles this Spring.  That will help you
decide whether or not to use Subscribe for your 1997 orders.  You can
download it, free of charge with no obligation, at

Richard R. Rowe, Ph.D.
37 Goden Street
Belmont MA 02178