Re: Savings from Converting to On-Line-Only: 30%- or 70%+ ?

From: Guedon Jean-Claude <guedon_at_ERE.UMONTREAL.CA>
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 21:08:39 -0400

On Fri, 28 Aug 1998, Arthur Smith wrote:


> But it could still happen. If authors en masse suddenly decided to
> post to xxx, what then? I grant your assumption, and then what?
> 1. Peer reviewed journal subscriptions crash
> 2. For-profits simply raise their prices (and make out with their 3-year
> contracts) while non-profits scramble.
> 3. Non-profits try to introduce author page charges. For-profits keep theirs
> at zero. Authors flock to for-profits for publication (the recognition
> imperative is still important) and non-profit submissions crash.
> 4. Non-profits turn to government funding. For-profits cry foul and
> unfair competition.
> 5. The non-profits fold or are bought out by for-profit publishers.
> 6. The for-profits notice that xxx also is government subsidized...
> Is my scenario any less likely than yours?

Regarding point 4 above. So what if Elsevier cries foul in the States or
in Canada? Politicians there could care less, but they care about
university budgets and the cost of libraries. What does "unfair
competition" mean here? I will sell you an article by Dr. X cheaper than
the next guy? The whole problem stems in part from the fact that our
vocabulary about scholarly publishing has been fully contaminated by an
undue extension of the applicability of market-related concepts. As I
often say in my public appearances, if anyone can demonstrate to me that
a paper by Albert Einstein behaves like a toaster from an economic point
of view, I will go to Holland, hat in my hand, and respectfully request a
job from Elsevier... :-)

Actually, I would enjoy seeing them crying foul and fretting... And I do
not think that in a world where "cultural exception" has managed to put a
limit to GATT negotiations, Elsevier would go very far with their foul crying...

Libraries should strongly consider deciding that no subscription will be
taken for a journal that claims to be scholarly AND that makes a profit
or belongs to a profit-making entity.



        Jean-Claude Guédon Tel. 514-343-6208
        Département de littérature comparée Fax. 514-343-2211
        Université de Montréal
        CP 6128, Succursale "Centre-ville" Surfaces
        Montréal, Qc H3C 3J7

See you at INET'99, San Jose, June 22-25, 1999
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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