14.0714 e-publishing: new model, article on it; AOL & Time-Warner

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Mon Mar 05 2001 - 15:41:52 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 714.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: Scott Jaschik <Scott.Jaschik@CHRONICLE.COM> (21)
             Subject: online discussion on new model for journal publishing

       [2] From: scaife@pop.uky.edu (196)
             Subject: [STOA] A Revolutionary Idea in Publishing

       [3] From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance) (59)
             Subject: Re: 14.0709 on the Net & AOL Time Warner

             Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 20:28:11 +0000
             From: Scott Jaschik <Scott.Jaschik@CHRONICLE.COM>
             Subject: online discussion on new model for journal publishing

    The Chronicle of Higher Education is sponsoring a live, online discussion
    with Manfredi La Manna, the founder of the Electronic Society for Social
    Scientists, about his plan to challenge the dominant model in the
    publishing of scholarly journals, on Wednesday, March 7, at noon U.S.
    Eastern time. Mr. La Manna, an economist at St. Andrews University in
    Scotland, argues that his model will make it possible for libraries to
    subscribe to scholarly journals at much lower prices than those charged by
    companies today. And at the same time, Mr. La Manna says that his model
    will allow authors and peer reviewers to be paid. While these plans are
    attracting considerable support from scholars, some of the major publishers
    of scholarly journals question the viability of the project and its
    assumptions. Mr. La Manna will respond to comments and questions about his
    organization's plans and the state of journal publishing in the chat.

    The Chronicle invites members of this list to read an article about his
    effort and to join the live discussion at:

    Advance questions are encouraged, and may be posted now. After the
    discussion is over, a transcript will be posted at that address.

    Scott Jaschik
    The Chronicle of Higher Education

             Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 20:32:38 +0000
             From: scaife@pop.uky.edu
             Subject: [STOA] A Revolutionary Idea in Publishing

    This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education
    (http://chronicle.com) was forwarded to you from: scaife@pop.uky.edu
    The following message was enclosed:
        Yet another new model...
        From the issue dated March 9, 2001

        A Revolutionary Idea in Publishing

        By DOUG PAYNE

    More than a thousand scholars have lined up behind an economist from St.
    Andrews University, in Scotland, who plans on using the Internet and a new
    online-publishing model to challenge the dominance of some of the world's
    largest academic publishers.

    The economist, Manfredi La Manna, says that the plan will produce
    peer-reviewed journals at half the price of their commercial counterparts.
    An organization that he proposed in November, the Electronic Society for
    Social Scientists (http://www.elsss.org.uk), is already making headlines,
    and he says it will produce "a definite change in the academic-journal
    market within three months."

    ELSSS, according to Mr. La Manna, is not a single publication; it is a
    concept, or template, for academics worldwide to use to free themselves
    from the clutches of what Theodore C. Bergstrom, an economics professor at
    the University of California at Santa Barbara, calls "the gougers."

    ELSSS has put forward a list of intended publications -- initially in
    economics -- that will operate according to strict criteria and be produced
    by existing publishers willing to subscribe to ELSSS principles.

    Mr. La Manna's model envisions publishers drastically reducing the amount
    of profit they seek to make from journals -- with those savings passed on
    to institutions in the form of lower subscription prices.

    But the man at the helm of Elsevier Science says ELSSS has already missed
    the boat with its "somewhat amateur" approach. Derk Haank, the company's
    chief executive officer, also says Mr. La Manna and his supporters are
    wasting their time: "They are talking old economy. They're attacking a
    perceived enemy that left the camp three years ago."

    Mr. La Manna, though, is convinced that it's Elsevier and other major
    journal publishers, such as Springer-Verlag, that have misread the appetite
    among academics for a system in which the intellectual and economic
    benefits of their work "will accrue to authors, referees, editors, and the
    academic community at large." Elsevier Science is part of Reed Elsevier, a
    multinational publishing company; Springer-Verlag is part of Bertelsmann A.
    G., the German media conglomerate.

    St. Andrews has already set up a nonprofit company to develop ELSSS, and
    Mr. La Manna has attracted endorsements and support from an international
    pool of researchers and scholarly groups willing to help him bring about
    what he says will be "a definite change in the academic-journal market
    within three months."

    In ELSSS, authors and referees will be paid -- which they generally are not
    in the traditional scholarly publishing model. Authors would be paid $500,
    and referees $200 to $250, depending on the journal. Editors will be
    appointed by ELSSS on the basis of nominations by scholars. The process of
    submitting, refereeing, and editing papers, and delivering electronic and
    print versions, Mr. La Manna says, will be similar to what academics are
    used to, "only much better."

    Each publication will be peer reviewed, will set high standards for
    quality, and will grant copyright to its authors. Electronic versions of
    print titles will offer "interactivity, full searchability, and criteria

    ELSSS publications must also allow full, free access to libraries and
    research centers in developing countries. All ELSSS publications must make
    available information on circulation, pricing, remuneration, expenses, and
    staffing. "In the longer term," Mr. La Manna says, "I envisage making the
    ELSSS template available to any discipline that subscribes to the ELSSS
    principles of fair publishing and respect for authorship."

    The ELSSS economics journals would be substantially less expensive than
    Elsevier's. For example, a college in North America could subscribe to
    ELSSS's Review of Banking & Finance for one year for $500, while the ELSSS
    Web site says that a subscription to Elsevier's Journal of Banking &
    Finance costs $1,066. A European institution could subscribe to ELSSS's
    Review of Monetary Economics for $500, while Elsevier's Journal of Monetary
    Economics would cost such an institution $1,154, according to the ELSSS Web

    Mr. La Manna says ELSSS has "reached and passed critical mass, and I am
    actively involved in the next stage" -- raising about $140,000, which he
    says will get the project under way.

    As a nonprofit organization, ELSSS must rely on philanthropy, "but the
    early signs are very positive," he says.

    "The ELSSS initiative," Santa Barbara's Mr. Bergstrom says in an e-mail
    interview, "seems to be on the right track, and I think its chances are
    good. The overpriced journals have already lost our goodwill. As new
    markets open up for publishing our work, I think the overpriced journals
    are also likely to lose the free labor that we have given them as authors
    and referees."

    Mr. La Manna says he worried about journal prices for years before he
    decided to start ELSSS. As an economist, he says, he could no longer stand
    by and watch libraries slash subscriptions to journals "in the ultimately
    vain attempt to accommodate the extortionate journal prices being charged
    by some commercial publishers."

    "I felt frankly ashamed that a profession devoted to the principles of
    efficiency and fairness had allowed this disgraceful state of affairs to
    persist," he says.

    The opportunity to put theory into practice came serendipitously last year,
    when the University of St. Andrews -- jointly with Scottish Enterprise
    Fife, a government agency focused on economic development -- introduced a
    program offering grants for projects that support innovative ideas in
    business and academe. Mr. La Manna won a special six-month sabbatical, and
    a small budget, to develop his idea. The university was "extremely
    supportive, indeed indispensable," he says.

    Colleagues elsewhere, he says, are proving to be equally helpful. Through a
    survey on the ELSSS Web site, he has been able to stockpile offers from
    academics to serve as authors, referees, and editorial-board members for
    various new journals.

    ELSSS has also been receiving favorable comment from organizations such as
    the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Sponsored by the
    Association of Research Libraries, SPARC is a worldwide alliance of
    research institutions, libraries, and organizations that encourages
    competition in the scholarly communications market.

    Rick Johnson, the group's enterprise director, says in an e-mail interview:
    "The citizenry is taking up arms. ELSSS provides more evidence that
    scholars are ready to take charge of scholarly communication.

    "When scholars and scientists realize how commercial interests have
    benefited from their labor, and how little say they have about the matter,
    they can't help but ask, 'Isn't there a better way?' The answer is yes."

    In addition to ELSSS, he cites as an example the online Economics Bulletin
    created by John P. Conley, an associate professor of economics at the
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as an alternative to Elsevier's
    Economics. Economics Bulletin started in January and has published only one
    paper so far. A directory on its Web site lists 80 registered users around
    the world.

    Another example cited by Mr. Johnson is the Berkeley Electronic Press,
    which started publishing eight online journals in business and economics in
    December. Access is free. Greg Tananbaum, the company's vice president for
    marketing, says that the press does not keep track of the number of
    different readers.

    "Each of these new ventures demonstrates a promising new model," says Mr.
    Johnson. "They get the wheels of change turning."

    But academic support is not without reservation. Andrew Oswald, a professor
    of economics at Warwick University, says in an e-mail interview that
    "competition in life is good."

    "In this area, publishers have been profiting at the expense of
    researchers," Mr. Oswald says. But, he cautions, "we already have hundreds
    of scholarly journals in economics: My subject, like so many others, is
    simply being swept away in a tsunami of them.

    "The flow of clear information is now swamped by the muddy water from new
    journals that no one reads. Journals are too plentiful; new ideas are as
    rare as ever," says Mr. Oswald.

    His recommendation? "Every person who wants to start an academic journal
    has first to find two that are willing to shut down. That goes for
    electronic journals, too. The best would then survive."

    Mr. La Manna, though, insists that sound theory underlies ELSSS and its
    attack on the inefficiencies built into the current system of scholarly

    "Economists especially," the scholar says, "have pointed to the cause of
    the inefficiency as a coordination problem. Provided everybody else does
    the same, it is optimal for each researcher to boycott high-priced journals
    and switch to more efficient alternatives.

    "But as everyone expects everyone else to make the first move, the current
    inefficient system is not dislodged. My idea was to use the Web to solve
    this market failure."

    Mr. La Manna maintains that the Web provides not only the opportunity of
    contacting thousands of research economists simultaneously, by e-mail, but
    also the means -- a Web-based registration mechanism -- to break the
    vicious circle.

    "By registering their interest in a whole range of journals to be produced
    according to fairer and more efficient criteria," Mr. La Manna says,
    "respondents were put in a win-win situation: If not enough people of high
    caliber replied positively, nothing would be lost. But if the response was
    large, this would create immediately the reputation and the base of
    successful journals.

    "Personally, I believed that the dislike of inefficiency is so ingrained in
    the economist's mind, that the scheme had a fair chance of success. And, as
    they say, the rest is history."

    But at his bete noire -- Elsevier Science -- Mr. Haank disagrees. He says
    Mr. La Manna and others have their history wrong.

    "The higher prices they're talking about are the result of a paper system
    that's already well on the way to being replaced by electronic publishing,"
    Mr. Haank says. "We are actually widening the customer base. In the new
    economy customers are paying [the equivalent of] only a dollar an article,
    in many cases. We want an open system, worldwide."

    He adds: "We enter into license agreements with libraries at a fixed annual
    rate. For the end-user, this can mean free unlimited usage."

    Reed Elsevier publishes more than a thousand journals in all major
    disciplines. A subsidiary called Elsevier Electronic Subscriptions sells
    access to an online database, Elsevier ScienceDirect, that offers the texts
    of both Elsevier Science's journals and those of some other publishers.

    Arguing that the approach of many of Elsevier's critics smacks of
    "religious warfare," Mr. Haank says that economists "would be better served
    buying more of our journals, which would help to bring the price down."

    "It's ironic that the latest initiative is coming from economists," he
    says. In figuring up the costs of ELSSS, he adds, economists aren't adding
    in the time they contribute to the project, "much of it paid for by the

    "How long can they keep it up? Many of the results are half the price, true
    -- but they are also half the size. The cost of the articles to the
    subscriber ends up the same. By publishing themselves, the academic
    community is only saving our profits, not our costs."

    Mr. Haank adds: "One should remember that the total cost of literature for
    most universities is about 1 percent of budget. Even allowing for a profit
    margin of anything up to 25 percent for us, the real savings might
    therefore end up being as little as 0.2 percent of budget. I'm not trying
    to plead poverty here, just trying to put this argument into perspective."

    Mr. La Manna, for his part, says he remains sanguine about ELSSS's chances
    for success. He's surprised at the speed of events, he says, adding that
    "signs are looking good."

    "I'm absolutely certain it is going to happen. Too many people are now
    seriously involved. All you need is the will to put all the pieces together."

    [material deleted]

             Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 20:33:15 +0000
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Re: 14.0709 on the Net & AOL Time Warner

    a trio of questions....


    Interesting to see the shift in subject fields as the question raised by
    Aimee gets localized into a discussion of the nature of the AOL niche.
    It was as I read it a question about an equation and implicity a question
    about cultural environments and sustainable intellectual activity.

    14.0706 the Net = AOL Time Warner?
    14.0709 on the Net & AOL Time Warner

    Aimee's subject line seems to recognize a plurality of nets. That subject
    field has the value : "net == AOL Time Warner?" Plural not only in number
    but also in character. The string could be parsed as "is AOL Time Warner a
    net?" especially if one considers that Cyperspace is bigger than the
    Internet and that is bigger than the Web. I wonder if anyone has done an
    analysis on the apparent shift from refering to the "Internet" to the
    "net" tout court.


    I wonder if you had any thoughts on cyberculture and the "deep reading"
    habits that Gregory Crane focuses upon (see a recent posting by Arun
    Tripathi). Are they antithetical as so much commentary seems to imply?

    I did a quick search to see if any one may have applied culture theory as
    developed by Mary Douglas to the Web or to the Internet and came across...

    Bruce Jones

    An Ethnography of the Usenet Computer Network

    Unfortunately as Jones reports:

    The working title (and ostensible topic) of my dissertation was A Social
    Constructivist History of Usenet. While I maintain an interest in the
    history of communication technologies and the specific history of Usenet,
    I have a real job and therefore no time nor interest in finishing a PhD
    that would not take me anywhere.


    You recall
    > I also remember Jim O'Donnell saying, in essence, let it get
    > commercialized. It will
    > drive a demand for bandwidth, and that will benefit all of us.

    Do you recall anyone reasoning out the "more is better" connection between
    bandwidth and benefit?

    For the rest of us,
    Worth remembering the source of the information on AOL-Time Warner reach
    of market:

    Jupiter Media Metrix provides audience measurement products and services
    to media companies, Internet advertisers and advertising agencies,
    Internet properties, technology companies and financial institutions. For
    the fiscal year ended 12/31/00, revenues totaled $77.8 million, up from
    $20.5 million. Net loss applicable to Common rose from $22 million to
    $63.3 million. Revenues reflect an increase in the number of customers.
    Higher loss reflects increased amortization of intangibles.

    Jupiter Media Metrix collects Internet audience data by measuring Internet
    usage from representative samples, or panels, of personal computer users
    with its proprietary tracking technology.

    a blackbox indeed!

    Thanks Aimee for provoking a bit of cross-reference checking.

    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
    Member of the Evelyn Letters Project

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Mar 05 2001 - 16:07:18 EST