Re: Should Publishers Offer Free-Access Services?

From: Thomas J. Walker <>
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2002 15:58:28 +0100

At the recent ALPSP seminar entitled "We can't go on like this: the
future of journals," I gave a talk describing in detail how two
societies had profited from allowing immediate free Web access (IFWA)
to articles in their journals.

One of these, the Florida Entomological Society (FES), has provided IFWA to
100% of its authors since 1994. From 1994 to 2000 it provided the service
without charge and suffered no significant loss of revenues from library
subscriptions. For 2001, faced with a predicted sharp decline in library
subscriptions, FES imposed an obligatory "IFWA fee" on all articles and
scientific notes. Authors did not object to the fees, and the fees
provided sufficient net revenues to completely replace net revenues from
all library subscriptions. Because the predicted sharp decline in library
subscriptions did not occur, FES had surplus publication revenues it did
not anticipate. The new fees have not discouraged submissions. Indeed,
the current issue (March 2002) is the largest on record.

 From 1995 until 1999, the other society, the Entomological Society of
America (ESA), resisted proposals that it sell IFWA to those authors who
wanted it. This resistance was in spite of the recommendations of
committees of members appointed to propose what ESA should do about
electronic access to its four journals. In 1999, pressure from members
became irresistible, and, in January 2000, sales of IFWA began. During
2000, 25% of ESA authors bought IFWA for their articles; during 2001, 51%
did so. Gross revenues from IFWA sales were $50,000. Net revenues should
not have been much less, because making PDF files freely accessible on the
Web costs little.

My summary to this talk to publishers was "Providing your clients what they
want, at a fair price, may be a good way to stay in business."

The talk and notes that go with it are accessible at

The home page of FES's journal it at

The home page of ESA's journals is at

Tom Walker

Thomas J. Walker
Department of Entomology & Nematology
PO Box 110620 (or Natural Area Drive)
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
E-mail: (or
FAX: (352)392-0190
Received on Fri Apr 26 2002 - 15:59:35 BST

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