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The Publishers� Perspective

Panel session of the UKSG/TFPL Seminar: Electronic Journals in the Corporate environment

London, November 1998

reported by Jane Martin

Jane Martin is Senior Marketing Manager, Humanities and Social Science Journals, Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP

The Panel

  • Chair: John Cox, Carfax Publishing
  • Vincent Cassidy, Academic Press Ltd
  • Jerry Cowhig, Institute of Physics Publishing
  • Tim Hogan, British Institute of Radiology

Each panellist gave an individual perspective on the challenges facing publishers as they move to electronic journals publishing, with a particular emphasis on lessons learned from the academic market and to what extent they could be applied to the corporate sector.

Vincent Cassidy opened the panel session by commenting on how the advent of electronic journals was leading to a breakdown of the traditional barriers between publisher and end-user. He proposed the following issues for discussion:

  • Can publishers offer generic licensing for varied needs, e.g. multiple use of contents, multinational requirements, a variable number of titles?
  • Corporate libraries are asking for flexibility. If part of the value is in tailored licensing, how can intermediaries play a part?

Jerry Cowhig opened by acknowledging that IoPP was following the lead of Academic Press in addressing the issues of consortia deals, corporate research, and new marketing techniques. IoPP had commissioned TFPL to research the requirements of the corporate sector for electronic journal delivery. He provided an overview of IoPP, the results of the TFPL research, and the IoPP�s plans for the future.

Tim Hogan gave a profile of the BIR and a history of the British Journal of Radiology from its launch in print in 1928 to its electronic launch in the 1990s, thus giving an overview of the issues involved in launching an electronic journal.

John Cox then opened the discussion session with the comment that publishers are now in a supply-driven business and must focus on their users� requirements.

A summary of the question and answer session now follows:

1. Richard Gedye, Journals Marketing Director, Oxford University Press:

How useful had IoPP found its knowledge of the magazine market when addressing the issue of distributing electronic journals in the corporate sector?

Jerry Cowhig:

Knowledge of the magazine market had been useful but not a major gateway into the corporate sector.

2. Geoff Kerrison, Head of Information Management, Defence Evaluation and Research Agency:

To what extent do publishers envisage that dealings with the corporate sector will follow the pattern of the academic sector? Might the two markets be quite diverse?

Vincent Cassidy:

In developing licence agreements with the corporate sector, it may be that some of the terms and conditions in academic licences can be transferred, but there is a fundamental difference between the academic sector�s "just in case" approa ch to e-journals compared to the corporate sector�s "just in time" requirements.

3. Michael McGrath, Head of UK Marketing, British Library Document Supply Centre:

Given that the publishing world is so fragmented (the 2000 most frequently used journals at the British Library, Boston Spa, are published by 600 different publishers), what role does the panel envisage for aggregators in the era of e-journals?

Tim Hogan:

The role of intermediaries is very important. In print journal publishing, communication between publishers and libraries has been very poor. Electronic journal publishing has made the relationship with libraries crucial, and intermediaries p lay an important part in this era of greater communication. The move towards linking between publishers is another critical area.

Jerry Cowhig:

Publishers are still working to separate agendas, but this also gives rise to innovation and thus should not be entirely viewed as a negative approach. However "distributed publishing" is the way forward with an ever-increasing emph asis on linking. When deciding whether to work with aggregators, IoPP asks the following questions: what�s in it for IoPP, its authors, and its subscribers? If librarians were to pressurise IoPP to use aggregators, it would do so.

Vincent Cassidy:

A distinction should be made between linking, in which case Academic Press favours as many aggregators as customers require, and licensing, which is a separate issue.

Jerry Cowhig:

Publishers are now closer to librarians than ever before. They still value the role of subscription agents but also enjoy a direct line to libraries.

John Cox:

Carfax is interfaced with all major gateways. The winners will be those that add value in the pointing capabilities they offer. This raises many legal and commercial issues but those that offer access to their site via only one gateway will l ose out.

Geoff Kerrison, Head of Information Management, Defence Evaluation and Research Agency:

Publishers must recognise that staff time is a crucial issue. Librarians prefer aggregators in order to avoid the amount of time spent dealing with individual publishers and separate contracts.

Jerry Cowhig:

IoPP do accept that researchers bookmark journals rather than publishers and are more interested in journals across a range of publishers. However, IoPP e-journal access requires IP addresses so some direct contact with the publisher is requir ed.

Vincent Cassidy:

It�s clear that publishers should do more research about librarians requirements.

Tim Hogan:

B.I.R has a mixed approach and deals both directly with libraries and individuals as well as with aggregators.

4. Sheila Broadmeadow, Librarian, Library and Information Services, British Telecommunications plc

Librarians see an increasing trend in publishers dealing directly with researchers. What are the value points that librarians can add in the new era of e-journals? How can they overcome the perception of end-users that direct contact with pu blishers to gain online access will sidestep library bureaucracy?

Vincent Cassidy:

The trend is towards librarians as teachers of tools and keepers of gateways rather than custodians of stock. If users require direct contact with publishers, then publishers will fulfill that requirement. However, there are major economic be nefits for a publisher in dealing with intermediaries.

John Cox

This is an opportunity for librarians to go out and sell their knowledge of navigational tools. There is a new role for them in the fields of training and customer service. There will also be budgetary control issues if researchers deal direct ly with publishers rather than via their library budget, as they may well need to tap into library training skills even if ordering directly.

Johannes Velterop, Managing Director, Academic Press

Most journal publishers� business is approximately 90% academic. To use the dog food analogy, our users are not our buyers. In the corporate sector, the power of the dog over the purse strings may be greater than in the academic environment. The end users may therefore make the purchasing decisions. In this scenario, librarians will become aggregators.

5. Tim Hogan:

The British Journal of Radiology registrants are mostly librarians. Is the issue of password control a problem for librarians?

Jill Taylor-Roe, University of Newcastle upon Tyne Library:

Many academics use a large number of journals which results in too many different passwords. This needs to be addressed and some standardisation should be introduced, e.g. via ATHENS 3.

Jerry Cowhig:

IoPP has phased out passwords and requires domain names only; unless the service is personalised, in which case a password is still necessary.

Richard Gedye, Oxford University Press:

OUP has maintained password controlled access to librarians so that librarians have some control over registration. It gives the librarian the option to change the IP address.

Vincent Cassidy:

AP licenses everyone in the system. All authorised users have full right of access. This breaks down barriers and therefore encourages usage. Passwords and IP addresses are not both required. Information is seen as an infrastructure provisio n. This makes distribution worldwide much more extensive than for print editions.

6. Jane Falconer, Assistant Systems Librarian, Imperial Cancer Research Fund:

The ICRF library in London provides services to scientists around the country, e.g. many based in hospitals who do not have access to the ICRF library but have access to the ICRF intranet. As a multisite organisation with one print subscription th e ICRF has had to deal with each publisher separately. Publishers have required details of all the end users which is very time-consuming for the ICRF librarian to collate. Why do publishers require so much information?

Tim Hogan:

When offering online access, publishers must always ask themselves whether they will lose print subscriptions. If an organisation with multiple subscriptions to a title requires online access at a number of sites, this may result in some print cancellations if all staff in that organisation can then access the online version. In the case of the ICRF one has to consider the possibility that an ICRF staff member based in a hospital may then be the gateway for the rest of the site to gain online access. If the hospital or members of its staff have print subscriptions, these may then be cancelled.

Jerry Cowhig:

This model is similar to many industries which have sites around the world. Publishers to date have not been very good at dealing with it and give the impression that they do not want people to read their journals! If the income to the publis her remains the same, there should not be a problem. If the publisher will make a loss then the situation needs to be reconsidered.

Jane Falconer, ICRF:

It is preferable to have all journals provided electronically to cut down on the time spent making photocopies and faxing articles to various sites. However, it is becoming a full-time job to negotiate site licences with publishers. The ICRF still wishes to retain all current print subscriptions as some users prefer print.

John Cox:

Jane has exposed the sheer terror of publishers. The journals market has fossilised for fifty years. Publishers are now faced with a rapidly changing environment. Carfax and AP share the same viewpoint: a single domain name should equal a si ngle site subscription, but other publishers have differing views. The challenge publishers face in a time of change is to think up new ways of trading and to introduce flexibility.

7. Terry Morrow, Marketing Manager, ingenta ltd/Bath Information & Data Services:

To what extent has the panel found electronic access to have affected paper sales?

Vincent Cassidy:

It depends on the model used. Many publishers use a print + online model where the online edition is included for 10 or 15% over the print price. We need to consider a model where online is the basic product and print is extra, if required. U sage of print journals is different from online usage and customers often want the flexibility of both.

Jerry Cowhig:

Online access often helps to maintain print sales so there can be positive results from offering both media.

Tim Hogan:

Electronic editions have been brought in to protect print but there is not much usage yet, so it is too soon to predict how print sales will ultimately be affected.

Jerry Cowhig:

We have very little information about usage of print journals and about our end users. One of the advantages of e-journals is the opportunity to monitor end users and usage but we have no base line against which we can evaluate the new informa tion.

8. Martin White, Principal Consultant, TFPL

Publishers are now being expected to archive their journals and to provide more information about usage. However, it should be remembered that it can be a commercially sensitive issue to reveal trains of research.

Vincent Cassidy:

This is an area where publishers can add value to the services they offer librarians.

9. Geoff Kerrison, Head of Information Management, Defence Evaluation and Research Agency:

From the discussions, is it true to infer that publishers sales are going up? Publishers should be aware that there is no more money available in the library sector.

Vincent Cassidy:

All publishers have financial targets to meet. If publishers offer a better service, they will charge for it. There is a change in what publishers can offer. They may now offer services that were previously offered by a third party.

John Cox:

Publishers are realistic about the market conditions. What may appear as wishful thinking is what publishers consider to be market share!

Summary of the morning session by the Chair

Communication is vital. We must educate each other about our respective needs and priorities.

Librarians have told us that price is critical. Publishers often delude themselves that they have a unique product and therefore price monopoly. Price is as critical as quality.

Within libraries a number of new skills are now required, especially technical skills. Products must be on library Web pages and supported by help desk services.

The difference between academic and corporate libraries will increase. Publishers need to look at their success in reaching the academic market, consider the importance of the advent of docdel services, and recognise the importance of linking and coop erating with each other (but avoiding the pitfalls of cartels).

The IoPP market research has revealed their failure in reaching the corporate library market and highlights the need for all publishers to recruit staff with a knowledge of industry.

Electronic products must offer more than just primary research. Publishers must work out what it is exactly that e-journals should offer.

Usage of e-journals is greater when access is simplified.

The role of aggregators: what type of intermediaries will exist in the future between author and researcher?

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