Figuring the True Cost of e-Products: e-Journals in an e-Package World
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Most e-journals and e-books are sold as part of larger e-packages. Titles usually are grouped and priced by the content provider. In the case of a selective package of e-products, the vendor may assign a dollar amount to an individual title. In aggregator packages, however, a (negotiated) flat price is charged — usually based on the number of users of the package and not on the cost or value of the e-journals that make up that package. For e-journals sold as part of aggregator packages, no meaningful cost figures exist. Libraries have management requirements for usage data, and in particular, cost-per-usage data in order to make decisions on selection and retention of electronic subscriptions. Now that SUSHI has enabled ERM software to efficiently retrieve COUNTER usage statistics using SUSHI on a e-journal basis, the need for per-e-journal costs will become even more acute, because libraries will rightly demand the capability of calculating cost-per-use numbers in a meaningful way. Koppel will describe several different approaches to calculating per-e-journal statistics in the absence of real pricing data from content providers. These will include approaches based on uniqueness, based on iterative calculations of previous use, as well as the application of external indicators of quality to assign cost values to individual titles within a package. Further, Koppel will suggest that greater transparency in e-journal pricing, when combined with meaningful cost-per-use statistics, may lead to changes in library purchasing behavior, changes in publisher pricing of electronic products, and ultimately, to the demise of the aggregator package for electronic products.