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Question: Do We Need Another Nature Journal?

:: This week, Nature Publishing Group released its Nature Group Letter to Customers 2005. Within the letter was mention of the release of the forthcoming new journal, Nature Physics, which will make its debut in October 2005. The announcement was sent to the SLS-L discussion group, and is available on Nature's site.

Not one to mince words, Bob Michaelson of Northwestern U in Illinois fired back the following response:

Dear Annette Thomas:

Nature Publishing Group has, for the past several years, shown a disturbing indifference to the inability of libraries to pay for its newly launched commercial (and very high priced) products. Nature Publishing Group has shown a similar indifference to its customers difficulties in paying for site-wide online access to its many products, and in paying for its online archives.

At some point we, your customers, must simply say "enough", and I believe that that point has been reached with your ludicrous, disdainful decision to launch Nature Physics in October. Surely you know that there are plenty of well established journals in physics. Surely you know that physicists use the free depository arXiv as their primary source for physics information -- to such an extent that some long-established physics journals such as Nuclear Physics now have scarcely any readers (we know this because we have the online statistics), and many physicists say that "nobody reads the journals any longer". Clearly there is no need for a new commercially published physics journal -- and perhaps there will soon no longer be a need for many existing commercially-published physics journals -- but you insist on launching this title, at the "introductory" pricing (which will increase) of $1,500 in print, and an online site license at a price that you aren't even willing to list on your web site! (Your web site says that academic pricing is in "bands based on FTE figures" -- but in your patronizing way you don't allow us full information.)

I fondly hope that Nature Physics is a spectacular failure, as it well deserves to be.


Robert Michaelson
Seeley G. Mudd Library for Science and Engineering
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois 60208

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