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ICIS Puts Chemical Market Reporter On The Bus - Could They Have Chosen a Better Time To Do This?

.: As if the timing couldn't be worse, in a move that further confirms how sadly out-of-touch trade publishers are with their educational customers, the Powers That Be at ICIS have dumped Chemical Market Reporter, and are launching a new title in its place, called ICIS Chemical Business Americas. Apparently it will be available next week. Meanwhile, when you visit the CMR page (the number one site for chemical prices) or ICBA sites, it says is "coming soon."

Dumb question: Could ICIS have done this at any time other than the beginning of fall semester at universities and colleges all over the freakin' planet? Perhaps. Yesterday morning I was extolling the virtues of CMR to 155 students in Chemical & Materials Engineering 200, using previously-designed screen shots to show them how to search for and find a chemical price. Oddly enough, each of them must find a price of a chemical in order to complete an assignment distributed to them yesterday in the class! I learned that CMR wasn't working when I received an e-mail from a distraught CME 200 student this afternoon. The last time I checked the site (a few days ago), it was working fine.

In the spring of 2005, after learning that CMR had dumped the chemical prices from the print version, and was charging something outrageous like ~US$10,000 to access the same information online, I led the charge to have the prices reinstated, or at least made available to educational subscribers at a considerably reduced rate. Read all the posts here if you like. Now ICIS pulls this stunt at the exact same time tens of thousands of chemical engineering, chemistry, business, and who knows what other categories of students are beginning classes, and need access to chemical prices ASAP.

Amazing, astonishing, but I am not surprised. I remember hearing that educational subscribers constitute perhaps 5-7% of CMR subscriptions, and I would expect the same percentage would apply to most trade titles in engineering and related disciplines. Trade publishers cater to their industries, and why not? The for-profit subscribers are their bread and butter. But what trade publishers tend to forget is that those of us at educational locations who subscribe to their publications are also teaching THEIR FUTURE CUSTOMERS. At this point in time, I seriously doubt such a concept has any resonance with them whatsoever, otherwise by now we would have seem some evidence to the contrary.

Sure, the new site might be up on Monday of next week, but even if it is, those of us who subscribe to CMR - er - ICBA, will need to reconfigure our tips sheets, resource guides, catalogue entries, etc etc. Like we have nothing else to do when classes begin. Never mind the additional embarrassment of having taught students in large groups, only to discover the site to which we were referencing has gone buh-bye. I guess it serves me right for using screen shots instead of going live during my presentation...

To put it mildly: ARGH!!! Idiot publishers. That sound you hear is my head banging against my desk.

Rant over.

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