Memorandum from the Imperial College Library
Imperial has very recently received an invoice
for our subscription to the Nature e-journal bundle, renewal for
which falls due in June 2004. Our bill for the 14 titles making
up the core of the collection has increased by 52%. (Costs this
year, including VAT, £ 19,635; proposed costs for next year,
including VAT, £29,858).
As far as we can tell, judging by messages that
are appearing on various e-mail library discussion lists, this
increase is not unique to Imperial, and is applying to a number
of other institutions, both here and abroad (indeed, one other
library has reported an increase for them of around 70%). This
is one electronic bundle that has not been part of the deals negotiated
by JISC on behalf of the UK HE communitynot for want of
trying. JISC's negotiators, despite lengthy discussion with Nature,
have been unsuccessful in arriving at agreement over a national
deal that was felt to be in the best interests of UK HE as a whole.
As a result, it has been up to individual libraries to decide
whether or not they wish to subscribe to the Nature bundle, and
to negotiate terms directly with the publishers. It is therefore
quite probable that there will not be a common renewal date for
all or most of the UK universities that do subscribe to the Nature
package, and that those of us who have received the recent renewal
invoice are among the first to learn of the proposed price increases.
I have heard two reasons being put forward by
Nature in justification of the price increases:
Their electronic journals were "underpriced"
in the first place; and
They are having to incur additional
costs to make their usage statistics "COUNTER compliant"
(COUNTER is the system that is starting to emerge as a standard
for monitoring usage of electronic journals).
Neither of these seems to us, or to other library
colleagues, to justify the level of increase being proposed.
This recent example of a very high price increase
is being drawn to the Committee's attention as a further illustration
of the problems that libraries are facing.