Re: The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)

From: Andrew Odlyzko <odlyzko_at_DTC.UMN.EDU>
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 20:12:17 -0600

Arthur Smith wrote:
>First note $1000 in 1977 is about $2850 in 2001, according to standard
>CPI tables. ...
>So not counting anything directly associated with print distribution,
>subscription management, marketing, or profit, a publisher can probably
>expect to be spending $800-$1500 in 2001, of which perhaps $300-$1000+
>is directly associated with the copy-editing piece, for every article
>they publish. Compared with the $2850 the 1977 number would suggest, we
>seem to be getting more efficient over the years. ...

The conclusion about greater efficiency does not follow. The $800-$1500
is what publishers such as APS spend. However, APS is uncommonly efficient
(and non-profit). The average revenue per article in the STM area is
today someplace in the vicinity of $5000, which suggests that STM publishing
has become less rather than more efficient. (I expect that APS had revenues
considerably lower than $1000 per article back in 1977 as well.)

In general, I agree that to operate the way APS does, it costs around
$800-$1500 per article. However, that does not preclude less expensive
modes of operation, either with lower quality, or with shifting some
of the explicit financial costs that APS incurs into hidden subsidies
from editors and the like.

Andrew Odlyzko
Received on Fri Dec 14 2001 - 04:35:10 GMT

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