Saturday 26 April 2008

Space up for grabs at the Beijing International Bookfair and Frankfurt

Beijing International Book Fair: 1 to 4 September 2008
ALPSP members have the opportunity to participate in the Beijing International Book Fair by hiring display space on the ALPSP Stand.

Display space - Shelf hire is for display of publisher materials only.
Cost: GBP sterling £195 (plus VAT) per shelf plus consolidation costs for shipping. Each shelf is 1 metre in length.
* Only one copy of each publication is allowed to be sent, and only enough publications to accommodate the space hired.
* Publications will NOT be returned after the show. They will be donated to relevant Chinese organisations.
If you would like to book display space, or require further information for the Beijing International Book Fair please contact Diane French by 30 May 2008. Please note that all display materials will have to be received by Diane by 15 June 2008 – these deadlines have to be adhered to. Display space is booked on a first come basis.
Please note: ALPSP will NOT be making meeting space available at the Beijing International Book Fair.

Frankfurt Book Fair: 15 to 19 October 2008
ALPSP are giving their members the opportunity to participate in the Frankfurt Book Fair by offering combined meeting and display space on the ALPSP Stand.

Combined meeting and display facilities: Members will be able to pre-book and pay for a specific ‘half day’ session to use an exclusive members’ table (with 4 chairs) on the ALPSP stand. The meeting space fee includes the use of one shelf for the display of publication material for the duration of the Book Fair.
Cost: £250 (plus VAT) per half day session. Sessions are 0900-1330 or 1330-1800 from Wednesday 15 to Saturday 18 October (no sessions to be booked on Sunday 19 October). Sessions will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Meeting space last year was much sought after, so if you would like to book a meeting space or have any other questions please contact Diane French
by Friday June 30 to ensure you get the half day session you prefer.

Please note that ALPSP is NOT hiring display space as a ‘stand alone’ item this year.

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Socially and environmentally responsible procurement

Social and environmental responsibility is becoming of greater and greater interest to the publishing industry. It will be the subject of one of the plenary sessions at this year's ALPSP International Conference.

Professor Andrew Millington (University of Bath) is leading a major international project on socially and environmentally friendly procurement and is looking for publishers to take part.

The project, which incurs no costs to organizations, is being run in cooperation with the University of Cattolica, Milan and Loyola College, Chenai and will examine social and environmental procurement in the UK, Italy, China and India.

It is an important issue and the only commitment is to fill in a brief online questionnaire and to participate in a one hour interview. Full confidentially is assured.

To participate please e-mail Professor Millington.

Bob Campbell's getting on his bike for BUF!

Bob Campbell (Wiley-Blackwell) is doing a mad cycle ride around Sicily for the British Urological Foundation (BUF). He's raised nearly £4200 in sponsorship at the time of writing. It's a great charity and Bob's a great bloke (and has been training exceptionally hard!) so let's try and get him over the £5000!

Tuesday 22 April 2008

NIH mandate

I was rudely awakened by a smoke alarm this morning.

Fortunately it was a malfunction rather than a fire but it meant that I spent dawn today checking some facts online for a document that I am writing on the open access mandate that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) implemented on 7 April.

I was delighted to see that the top ranked result when I Googled 'NIH mandate' (from the UK at least*) was not the open access policy pages of the NIH, nor even comments by Stevan Harnad but was in fact Priscilla Markwood's thought provoking Editorial 'The NIH mandate - we're not in Kansas any more' in the April 2008 issue of Learned Publishing. Credit and kudos to both the author and the search engine optimization talents of our colleagues at IngentaConnect!

Priscilla's Editorial - which outlines the threats to smaller society publishers and postulates that the Open Access movement may actually help to strengthen commercial publishers - is well worth a read.

* Of course, Google's mystical algorithm means that you get different results from depending on where you are located....

Monday 21 April 2008

Why 'author pays' publishing might be a good idea...

It may surprise some people to learn that I am supportive of the notion of 'author pays' publishing (or more correctly, of publishing models supported by author-side payments since the actual cash often comes from funding bodies or other sources).

It won't surprise anyone to know that I have some caveats:

Firstly, publishers should be left alone to determine their own business models - those that are best for them and for the communities that they serve - and this means being free of, for example, interference from governments which pushes them in one direction or another.

Secondly, the actual level of fees that journals would need to charge is likely to be very much higher than the typical fees currently seen in the marketplace. My [wholly unscientific, so you'll have to trust me on this] experience would suggest that fees would need to be many thousands of dollars (but more research like that undertaken by the Research Information Network is needed).

Thirdly, it is pretty clear that as things stand adequate funds are not yet available to cover these costs for all disciplines. It may be possible in time to divert funds away from library acquisition budgets to pay author-side publication charges (no, I'm afraid that any monies 'saved' from cancelled journal subscriptions won't get used for all of those books you've been wanting to buy...') but that's not going to happen overnight...

Fourthly, and related to my third point, there is the issue of the differences in funding from one discipline of academic endeavour to the next and the impact that this has on the affordability of 'author pays'. Whilst I admire greatly the clarity of the Wellcome Trust's statement that they see dissemination as part of the research and are therefore willing to pay 1-2 per cent of their research budget to fund that dissemination, that only holds for well-funded subjects where research grants are relatively large. The absolute cost of dissemination is likely to be broadly the same irrespective of discipline but in subjects with modest research grants like mathematics or ecology the percentage cost of dissemination will be much higher than 1 or 2 per cent - perhaps even exceeding 100 per cent. So the dissemination could well cost more than the entire research budget.

Fifth, it is very important to ensure that the mechanism of publishing is accessible to everyone and that means that in an 'author pays' publishing system those that can afford to pay have to subsidize those that cannot (this happens in the subscription world through organizations like INASP).

Sixth, it is not a sin for publishers to make a profit (surplus, call it what you will...). Profit is an incentive for good publishing, results in innovation, and means that publishers have funds available to invest in the future of scholarly communication (journal publishing is a model industry in terms of adoption of new technologies and it is just grossly and ludicrously wrong to suggest that they have been slow to embrace the Internet, for example).

Now, before this turns into a version of Monty Python's 'What have the Romans ever done for us' in reverse, let me explain why I think 'author pays' publishing could be a good thing for some publishers.

A) Benefit to the advancement of knowledge
I don't think you can argue against the fact that Open Access could bring benefits to some disciplines for example if the whole corpus of literature was open to interrogation by data and text mining tools. If you want a compelling case for this, talk to Peter Murray-Rust (or let him talk at you!) and find out about the interesting stuff the chemists are doing...

B) Scalability of income
I've been involved with running a couple of journal publishing businesses in my time and one of the problems we had was that we couldn't raise the price of the journal fast enough to cover the costs of the extra papers we were publishing. We managed to increase the quality, and kept increasing the rejection rates of the journals, but there were still more and more high-quality papers to be published. A model where the income scales more or less directly with the number of papers you are publishing therefore seems like a good thing (I also think that submission, rather than acceptance, fees are an interesting concept but that will have to be the subject of a future post...)

C) Small publishers with no sales force
Again referring to my own experience of running a smallish publishing house, there was no way that I could deploy an international sales force trotting around the globe polishing the doorknobs of librarians and selling our wares. Our relationship with the librarian community was therefore pretty much non-existent. However, we had great visibility among, and relationships with, the authoring community who really appreciated what we were doing for them... so if they paid the bills (as long as they had the money, of course) I would have been quite happy.

D) Eliminates motives for piracy
This, I think, is a big issue and one which is only going to get bigger. In-copyright academic content is increasingly appearing illegally on peer-to-peer file sharing sites and it is virtually impossible for the publishing industry to police this. At the very least it is very expensive. Open access does eliminate the motive for piracy and may, in the very long way, be a pragmatic approach to stopping piracy. I bet the music industry wishes it had the equivalent of an 'author pays' option.

Incidentally, there are a number of less-than-ideal artefacts that are shared by both the subscription and 'author pays' model. In both publishers expend time and money dealing with articles that are rejected and so the higher your rejection rate, the higher your costs. I don't believe that this is an incentive to publish poor articles and the quality of a publication and its brand are going to continue to be very important.

Friday 18 April 2008

Standard names for versions of journal articles

The NISO / ALPSP Journal Article Version (JAV) Technical Working Group has just submitted its recommendations to ALPSP for approval.

To quote the project webpages: 'In the digital world, multiple versions of journal articles are often available online. This can cause confusion because there is no established way of identifying the various versions by either a common terminology or identification scheme. Versions of a journal differ in minor or major respects and 'preprints' and 'postprints' come in many variants.'

The draft recommendations will now be circulated to the ALPSP Council for approval and in the not-too-distance future we'll hopefully all be referring to the various stages in the lifecycle of journal articles by common names!

ALPSP CEO starts blogging

I guess that it is high time that we at ALPSP started our own blog...

I confess to being a late adopter of 'web 2.0' stuff, but it seems clear that social networking has huge potential for ALPSP to help us connect with our members and indeed to help them connect with each other.

This was particularly evident at the strategy retreat that the Council of ALPSP held in London on 10 and 11 April 2008. ALPSP is the community of non-profit scholarly publishers and those that work with them and we intend to ensure we remain at the heart of the community...

The strategy retreat was very enjoyable and it will be interesting to see how our plans for the future develop...