Developments in Open Access, E-Books, and More
By Paula Hane
The big news for us at Information Today, Inc. is our
Live from London blog, which provided coverage of the
Online Information 2003 conference Dec. 24 and was
ITI's first foray into the Web log publishing environment.
Our determined group of ITI editorsDick Kaser,
Marydee Ojala, and John Eichornraced around the
exhibit hall and various conference-related events to
report the news, commentary, and buzz. They were our
eyes (Kaser was armed with his digital camera) and ears,
giving us wonderful nuggets, such as the photo of sunrise
over the Olympia conference center, the best giveaway
at the show, a virtual tour of the booths, and highlights
of keynote presentations. (There are even rare photos
of Dialog founder Roger Summit, minus his beard, and
Mary Ellen Bates, minus her ponytail.) If you haven't
seen the blog, it's still accessible at http://www.infotodayblog.com.
Because of Online Information, it was a busy several
weeks for news, despite the lull during the Thanksgiving
holiday in the U.S. A number of vendors chose the event
to make product announcements, including enhancements
to the INSPEC database (see
the new Dialog Application Programming Interface, and
the new STN Express with Discover! Analysis Edition
At a reception in the exhibit hall, the American Institute
of Physics (AIP) Publishing Services announced that
its Online Journal Publishing Services hosting platform
will change its name to Scitation. AIP also announced
a new partnership with the Institution of Electrical
Engineers that will provide Scitation Alerts powered
According to an AIP press release, CEO Marc Brodsky
noted that the name Scitation "conveys three important
messages. First, it stresses the platform's strength
in science and engineering. Second, it reinforces AIP's
leadership in citation reference linking, both forward
and backward. Finally, it signals the breadth and timeliness
of online products and services that we develop and
host beyond journals."
Barbara Quint pointed out how the name Scitation sounds
similar to ISI's Science Citation Index and noted Brodsky's
competitive comment about "leadership" in citation reference
linking. While ISI has clearly led the way in citation
linking over the years, this is functionality that we
will increasingly see implemented within electronic
Linking is certainly a hot area of development in
the industry, as I've covered frequently in this column.
Responding to user expectations, most vendors are rapidly
expanding their cooperative agreements to provide transparent
navigation capabilities between services. ProQuest Information
and Learning has recently announced a series of such
ProQuest will link abstract and index records from
its online databases with the full text of Project MUSE's
journals. Project MUSE is a collection of 220 peer-reviewed
scholarly journals from 36 humanities and social sciences
publishers. It's managed by The Johns Hopkins University
Press in cooperation with the Milton S. Eisenhower Library.
ProQuest supports OpenURL linking for both inbound
and outbound links and enables support even for link
targets that are not yet OpenURL-compliant. The company
also announced that it's now offering PubMed LinkOut
capabilities in ProQuest Medical Library. PubMed LinkOut
will allow PubMed users to have direct access to more
than 330 full-text titles in the ProQuest Medical Library
database. Customers with valid IP-based access to the
ProQuest service can take advantage of seamless navigation
between the PubMed record and the corresponding full-text
article hosted on the ProQuest platform.
Most recently, ProQuest and CSA announced that customers
of both services can link from CSA research abstracts
to the full text of the journals in ProQuest online
databases. ProQuest has established linking agreements
with providers such as JSTOR, Swets, Ingenta, and OCLC.
ProQuest supports linking via CrossRef, which enables
access to content from more than 200 publishers. In
addition, ProQuest facilitates linking with all major
link resolvers and journal-list service providers, such
as Serials Solutions (Article Linker, Journal Linker),
ExLibris (SFX), Endeavor (LinkFinderPlus), Innovative
Interfaces (WebBridge), and TDNet. It also links with
document retrieval services such as Infotrieve and CISTI.
In other news, ProQuest signed an agreement with The
New England Journal of Medicine to distribute the
full text of the journal in several ProQuest databases.
Backfile rights dating to 1996 are included. Content
in XanEdu Course Packs will be current with the print
edition. Other databases will be embargoed for 90 days.
Scholarly Journals, Elsevier
This past fall, academic serials librarians struggled
with their journal-purchase and -renewal decisions.
For some, the RoweCom failure had been just one more
blow during tough economic times. As rising journal
costs and severely strained library budgets were putting
on the squeeze, librariansas well as faculty at
some institutionscried "enough" and started to
make some tough choices about subscriptions.
In mid-November, I reported in a NewsBreak (https://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb031117-1.shtml)
that Cornell University Library was canceling about
200 Elsevier titles. Harvard University said it was
preparing for similar cuts in its Elsevier subscriptions.
And the University of California was continuing its
negotiations with the publisher on behalf of all the
UC campuses, while faculty on some campusesat
UC and othersresolved to boycott Elsevier if reasonable
rates cannot be negotiated.
Since then, a student newspaper at North Carolina
State University reported that the student senate passed
a resolution supporting the NCSU libraries' position
to not renew the Elsevier ScienceDirect subscription.
The NCSU library site has posted extensive information
about the contract situation (http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/colmgmt/elsevier).
Meanwhile, the Triangle Research Library Network's
(which includes NCSU, the University of North CarolinaChapel
Hill, North Carolina Central University, and Duke University)
contract for electronic access to Elsevier's journals
via ScienceDirect was set to expire Dec. 31, 2003. At
press time, renewal negotiations were still in process,
but according to the NCSU site, if Elsevier doesn't
offer TRLN "a reasonable contract for shared electronic
access to their journals, NCSU will move to what Elsevier
calls its 'Limited Option.' Under this model, NCSU can
choose the titles to which it subscribes and more effectively
manage costs, but will have to pay a 25-percent access
fee for electronic access to our subscribed journal
titles." The site also posted a list of 2004 Elsevier
cancellations by title.
While it's clear that there's a lot of frustration
with the inflexibility of Elsevier's "big deal" pricing
bundles and the overall price increases, it's not clear
how all of this is affecting the mega-company. According
to the following Dec. 4 statement on Elsevier's financial
performance, it doesn't look like the organization is
suffering from cancellationsat least not yet.
Elsevier continues to perform well with sales growth
accelerating in the second half with a strong medical
book-publishing program and the continuing success of
ScienceDirect. In the Science & Technology business,
against a background of considerable pressure on institutional
budgets, good growth is being achieved through sales
of electronic journal products, including backfiles
and subject collections, although there has been some
softness in software sales to the pharmaceutical sector.
Subscription renewals remain strong and usage of ScienceDirect
has doubled versus a year ago. ScienceDirect now has
5 million research articles.
Despite this rosy picture, as this issue went to press,
I learned that Elsevier plans to close its BioMedNet
site as well as its other science and technology portals,
ChemWeb and ElsevierEngineering.com. According to information
posted to the Chemical Information Sources Discussion
List, the company publication "Elsevier Today" said:
"This difficult decision has been made in the context
of an extremely challenging budget cycle brought about
by the continued tough market conditions. Additionally,
changes in legislation make it more difficult to defray
costs through advertising-based activities using membership
lists. This has led to the need to review the resources
deployed on portals in support of our marketing strategy."
The company also reportedly indicated that some of the
portals' activities would be migrated to the corporate
At press time, The Guardian reported that the
U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee
is conducting an inquiry in early 2004 to examine the
pricing and availability of scientific publications
and possible government support for open-access publishing.
The article noted this could "spell disaster for Reed
BioMed Central on a Roll
Meanwhile, open-access publishing initiatives, which
have begun to offer an alternative to costly subscriptions,
continue to gather momentum. BioMed Central announced
that it has signed institutional membership agreements
with two U.S. consortia: the Consortium of Southern
BioMedical Libraries and Maine Biomedical Research Infrastructure
Network. Prior to this, BioMed Central had just secured
membership agreements with three other U.S. consortia.
In addition, 17 Australian institutions will become
BioMed Central members as part of an agreement with
the Council of Australian University Librarians. Starting
Jan. 1, article-processing charges will be waived for
all staff at the Australian member institutions when
they publish in any of BioMed Central's 100-plus peer-reviewed
BioMed Central is an independent publisher that's
committed to providing immediate, free online access
to peer-reviewed biomedical research. Instead of subscription
fees for use, authors or their institutions pay an article-processing
charge. BioMed Central's Institutional Membership Program
was launched in January 2002 and now has more than 400
members. By the way, BioMed Central is not related to
BioMedNet, although BioMedNet was once part of the Current
Science Group (owner of BioMed Central). For more on
this, see Focus on Publishing on page 17.
The open-access publishing model is gaining support
in a number of other arenas. The Information Commons,
a project of ALA's Office of Information Technology
Policy with support from the Rockefeller Foundation,
is an effort to create "a new vision for libraries in
the digital age by examining the importance of establishing
and protecting a vital public sphere of creative works
and finding a middle ground beyond the extremism that
dominates the debates over who controls information
The group is holding an open forum on the issues at
ALA's Midwinter Meeting. As background for the discussion,
a white paper is available at http://www.ala.org/oitp.
According to the paper, one way to advance the information
commons is to advocate publication in and subscription
to open-access journals.
The following is an excerpt from the discussion document
that lists some ways librarians can foster the development
of the information commons:
Involve communities of stakeholders
in the design, creation, and
management of information resources.
Spell out common property resource economic
models that elevate the value of shared access over
Publicize and promote the value and
benefits of access as well as the perils of enclosure.
Promote legislation that ensures public
ownership of public research.
Oppose new copyright laws and regulations
that limit the public's access rights.
Support policies that ensure fair and
equitable access to information for everyone.
Sign licenses and contracts that ensure
open access and existing intellectual property rights.
Encourage peer production of information.
Publish in and purchase open-access
Promote open-access licenses.
Purchase materials from a diverse array
of information providers.
Resist attempts to filter and otherwise
control access to ideas.
Protect against the invasion of privacy
through the use of technological surveillance measures.
Develop digital repositories to facilitate
open access to the information assets of individuals
The Information Society
Representatives from around the world met Dec. 1012
in Geneva for a United Nations-sponsored World Summit
on the Information Society (http://www.itu.int/wsis).
The summit's goal was to bridge the digital divide by
extending information technology access to all. Political
leaders from more than 175 countries gathered to endorse
a shared vision in a Declaration of Principles and to
commit to a Plan of Action. Among other things, the
draft action plan aims "to promote electronic publishing,
differential pricing, and open-access initiatives to
make scientific information affordable and accessible
in all countries on an equitable basis."
Opening the event, Yoshio Utsumi, secretary general
of both the summit and the International Telecommunication
Union, said: "Today, information is a source of power
and a route to riches.... But too many people in the
world are deprived of access to information and to the
tools for accessing it. Until we address the injustices
of the digital divide, we cannot embrace the promise
of cyberspace with a clear conscience. The summit provides
us with a unique opportunity to develop a shared vision
of the emerging information society while addressing
Dick Kaser attended the global conference and will
be reporting on it in the February 2004 issue. The second
phase of the World Summit is scheduled for Nov. 16 to
18, 2005, in Tunis, Tunisia.
According to data released by the Open eBook Forum
(OeBF), the e-book industry trade and standards organization,
retail e-book sales continued strong growth in the third
quarter of 2003. Cumulative units sold for the first
three quarters of 2003 have reportedly surpassed the
1 million mark for the first time in a single year and
are up 64 percent over the third quarter of 2002. Revenues
reported by retailers for the third quarter of 2003
were up 37 percent over the same period in 2002. This
data is featured in the organization's quarterly "OeBF
eBook Publishing and Retail Statistics Report." Nick
Bogaty, executive director of OeBF, said that these
figures are notable, given the departure of Gemstar
and barnesandnoble.com from the e-book market.
In the library market, netLibrary said that it has
added more than 2,000 new titles since October 2003,
and its collection now contains 62,500 e-book titles
from more than 300 publishers. Currently, more than
5,500 libraries and organizations access netLibrary
e-books either through individually owned collections,
shared collections via consortia, or both.
ebrary, which offers electronic books and other documents
to libraries in an aggregated, searchable database model,
has also had a busy year. ebrary CEO and CTO Christopher
Warnock said: "This has been a tremendous year for ebrary.
We have grown our customer base by more than 300 percent
and now serve libraries and other organizations in 35
different countries, we've expanded the number of books
and other documents in our database offerings to more
than 35,000, and we've made significant improvements
and enhancements to our technology, which now supports
four major languages and can process over 20,000 documents
ebrary currently offers 16 aggregated databases that
cover all academic subject areas as well as general-interest
subjects. It also licenses six complementary, publisher-branded
databases. A company spokesperson said that ebrary would
be making several significant announcements early this
EBSCO reports that it's in the "final stages of fully
integrating the RoweCom acquisition," which includes
RoweCom U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe. (RoweCom
filed for bankruptcy in January 2003. EBSCO completed
the acquisition of RoweCom in June 2003.) The company
decided to continue operations from the former RoweCom
office in Westwood, Mass. Susan Kalalas, operations
manager of the office, said: "We are glad to have become
part of a company like EBSCO. They said their focus
was going to be on merging personnel and systems in
a way that would best serve our customers in 2003, and
they've done what they said they were going to do."
EBSCO said it has merged the existing EBSCO office
in Orsay, France, with the former RoweCom office in
Villebon, France. All employees now operate from the
Villebon location. EBSCO has also upgraded the U.K.
systems that provide information technology support
The company regards the RoweCom acquisition as a success.
Allen Powell, vice president and chief financial officer
for EBSCO Subscription Services, said: "For us, key
measures of success include the volume of renewals processed
for 2004 and the level of customer satisfaction. Renewal
season is beginning to wind down, and we are pleased
so far with the renewal activity and customer feedback."
While libraries and the publishing industry are not
likely to forget 2003's difficult RoweCom/divine bankruptcy
and the impacts on library subscription budgets and
publishers' revenues, the healing seems to be progressing.
"Challenging" is certainly an understatement for the
past year, but EBSCO hopes to move forward now. And
after many months of reporting on the events, so do
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Paula J. Hane
is Information Today, Inc.'s news bureau chief and editor
of NewsBreaks. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.