Re: Electronic vs Print pricing comparison (Albert Henderson) Stephen Clark 25 Mar 1999 20:50 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 14:59:48 -0500
From: Albert Henderson <NobleStation@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: Electronic vs Print pricing comparison (Jason Eyre)

on Wed, 24 Mar 1999 Jason Eyre <Jason.Eyre@EPA.VIC.GOV.AU> wrote:

> The library for the Environment Protection Authority in Victoria,
> Australia,  is being encouraged to embrace electronic journals as a viable
> - and cheaper - alternative to the more traditional print variety, as well
> as being more environmentally-friendly (as less paper is used).
> While we are keen to do this (and, indeed have already done to a limited
> but growing extent), our PERCEPTIONS are that the electronic journals
> currently available are comparatively MORE EXPENSIVE (due primarily, but
> not exclusively,  to the licensing arrangements for multiple access
> points). In addition, the RANGE of e-journals available is SIGNIFICANLY
> LOWER compared to those on offer in a print format, particularly for a
> specialist scientific/technical library such as ours.
The promise of "cheaper and easier" through technology has not been
fostered by publishers! Why not? I would suggest that publishers
are reluctant to make promises they cannot keep. After reading
some of the visionary essays, I suggest you look closely at whether
the writers have any experience doing what they promise in a
commercial market.

While some examples have been raised of electric journals that,
thanks to considerable subsidies, can be delivered free or cheap
(not counting the investment of the buyer in equipment, energy,
supplies, training, etc.) the experience of RED SAGE, TULIP,
PROJECT ELVYN and other experiments has been otherwise. [As
reported by Springer-Verlag, Elsevier, and Bowker-Saur,
respectively] Paper and postage are relatively minor components
in the cost of a highly specialized (i.e. science) journal.
The major cost of organizing dissemination does not go away.

Obviously, added investments in technology must be recovered. The
nature of technology to obsolesce rapidly keeps this new factor
fairly active.

Publishers are also timid about investing in a market that is
constantly impoverished -- academic libraries. The agencies
that finance research libraries have done much to discourage
technical innovation.

The most successful project, it seems to me, is ADONIS, which
provides an extra service at an extra cost and depends largely
on an industrial customer base.

> What I want to ask you all is this: Are our perceptions founded? Are
> e-journals more expensive than print (in your own experience)? Can anyone
> point me to a recent, authoritative analysis of this issue? What are the
> relative advantages/disadvantages of electronic over print? Do any of you
> have experiences/examples that you can relate on this matter?
published experiments and many related questions. [Bowker-Saur 1996]

There are many unsolved problems of standardization, storage,
obsolescence, critical mass, distribution, etc. that can be
understood better by reading the original reports.

> A rather broad-ranging question, I admit; but I am keen to hear your
> opinions on at least some of these issues....

I hope I have given you some leads.

Albert Henderson