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Four IOP Journals Move to Taylor & Francis - Commentary by Dana Roth

:: There has been ongoing dialog regarding the transfer of four IoP journals to Taylor & Francis. David Stern (Yale) provided comments, and Steve Moss (IoP) responded. Dana Roth (Caltech), continues the discussion, and writes the following on SLA-PAM:

I first want to express my appreciation to the IOP for all it has done over the years for SLA-PAM. The sale of the four titles to T&F, however, reminded me of a tangential issue that has been bothering me for some time.

I have spoken about differential journal pricing for several years now, and it is not an issue unique to commercial European publishers. For example, the 2004 British Pound price for IOP package Z was £25,894 while the US$ price was US$49,798. There are several ways to calculate a reasonable exchange rate and a corresponding reasonable US$ price.

1. Elsevier, prior to 2000, calculated their US$ subscription rates based on the average exchange rate for the 07/01-6/30 period prior to announcing subscription rates, a few months later, for the next calendar year.

2. An alternative, that was offered by Harrassowitz in the past, was to allow payment (in US$) at the exchange rate in effect on the day when the invoice was paid (i.e. for institutions on the 10/01-9/30 fiscal year, in October 2003).

If either of these practices had been employed by the IOP, for their 2004 prices, the exchange rate (and US$ price) would have been:

1. (07/01/02-06/30/03) US$ 1.586 = 1£ --- $41,068

2. (10/01/03-10/31/03) US$ 1.677 = 1£ --- $43,424

Comparison of these prices, with the $49,798 charged, suggests that US$
subscribers are paying at least a 15% surcharge over a reasonable exchange rate subscription price.

If the IOP is not prepared to reduce the Package Z subscription rate in 2005, would it be too much to expect them to meet us half way and also not increase the US$ subscription rate?

Dana L. Roth
Millikan Library / Caltech 1-32
1200 E. California Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91125
626-395-6423 fax 626-792-7540
dzrlib AT library DOT caltech.edu


Reminds me of the ACS also. However, they do not need pricing in different currencies to achieve just the same effect with differential pricing for customers in North America and Outside North America.

The ACS All Package for 2004 was sold at $48027 in North America, and at $52620 Outside North America.

Compare this with the AIP All Package at Tier 1 (2004) which is sold at $45717 domestic rate, Surface Freight + $1205 ($46922), Air Freight + $1870 ($47587).

But of course it is possible to order also at the domestic rate by using an agent's consolidated service when this agent can ship from the country of origin. We do this routinely and it saves us a lot of money. Of course, some publishers (Elsevier, for obvious reasons) will not allow an agency to order at the domestic price for an end customer abroad even if it is the agency that handles the shipping to the customer. But is this true for IoP also? I don't know. The perennial complaints by US customers that they are not offered the cheaper IoP package A (a clear discrimination for which I cannot see any reason except coercion on the basis of an assumption of "higher buying power" in the US market) seem to indicate that it may not be so easy.

What is worse and really unjustified, is ACS' practice to use differential pricing also for electronic surcharges and e-only prices of their journals in North America and abroad, while AIP and APS use the same e-only prices for all regions globally. This clearly shows that differential pricing is involved and not just "shipping and handling charges".

On the other hand, a publisher like NPG currently uses artificially low echange rates for the US market to help him go forward with its aggressive pricing strategies. European customers as a result feel the pain much more, but you can be sure, as soon as the new pricing has been accepted, NPG will adopt "real" exchange rates, and then it will be too late to complain.

But let us also mention good examples like the Royal Society which seem to use normal "real" exchange rates (your influence? ;-)

Bernd-Christoph Kämper
Universitätsbibliothek Stuttgart, Holzgartenstr. 16, 70174 Stuttgart
- Fachreferat für Physik / Koordinierung elektronischer Ressourcen -
Postanschrift: Postfach 104941, 70043 Stuttgart,
Tel. ++49 711 121-3510, Fax -3502, E-Mail: kaemper AT ub.uni-stuttgart.de

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