Thursday, September 15, 2005

GO ROBERT - or what you get when you tick off a librarian

I just love an eloquent letter. This one was inspired by yet another bit of corporate greed and deserves to be published far and wide. (The full text of the letter that responds to is below):

From: rmichael@northwestern.edu
Subject: Re: [STS-L] Nature Publishing Group Open Letter to Customers, 2005
Date: September 15, 2005 9:05:53 AM PDT

Dear Annette Thomas:

Nature Publishing Group has, for the past several years, shown a disturbing
indifference to the inability of libraries to pay for its newly launched
commercial (and very high priced) products. Nature Publishing Group has
shown a similar indifference to its customers difficulties in paying for
site-wide online access to its many products, and in paying for its online
archives.

At some point we, your customers, must simply say "enough", and I believe
that that point has been reached with your ludicrous, disdainful decision
to launch Nature Physics in October. Surely you know that there are plenty
of well established journals in physics. Surely you know that physicists
use the free depository arXiv as their primary source for physics
information -- to such an extent that some long-established physics
journals such as Nuclear Physics now have scarcely any readers (we know
this because we have the online statistics), and many physicists say that
"nobody reads the journals any longer". Clearly there is no need for a new
commercially published physics journal -- and perhaps there will soon no
longer be a need for many existing commercially-published physics journals
-- but you insist on launching this title, at the "introductory" pricing
(which will increase) of $1,500 in print, and an online site license at a
price that you aren't even willing to list on your web site! (Your web
site says that academic pricing is in "bands based on FTE figures" -- but
in your patronizing way you don't allow us full information.)

I fondly hope that Nature Physics is a spectacular failure, as it well
deserves to be.

Sincerely,

Robert Michaelson
Seeley G. Mudd Library for Science and Engineering
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois 60208
USA
rmichael@northwestern.edu

At 09:26 AM 9/15/2005, npglibcomms@natureny.com wrote:
*Apologies for any cross-posting*

Nature Publishing Group
15 September 2005

Dear customers,

I am pleased to be able to write once again with news of launches,
acquisitions, and important technical and policy developments at Nature
Publishing Group (NPG), reflecting the evolving needs of our customers.

With the launch of the Nature Clinical Practice (NCP) series in late 2004,
NPG confirmed its position as a dynamic clinical publisher. The first four
NCP titles, Cardiovascular Medicine, Gastroenterology & Hepatology,
Oncology and Urology, provide time-short physicians with authoritative,
timely overviews of how key developments can be applied in the clinical
setting. The journals have already been indexed in PubMed. The next four
titles in the series, launching November 2005, will be Endocrinology &
Metabolism, Nephrology, Neurology, and Rheumatology. From January 2006,
NPG will also publish the society-owned titles Kidney International and
the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, both previously published by
Blackwell Publishing.

The launch of Nature Materials in 2002 marked NPG's commitment to
publishing in the physical sciences. The first issue of Nature Chemical
Biology was published in June, and Nature Physics launches in October of
this year. With these launches, NPG aims to provide high-impact,
high-value publications, in line with the needs of authors and readers,
expanding our long-standing service in the life sciences.

NPG's commitment to new and established journals is clear. Our
publications continue to dominate the rankings in the Thomson ISI Journal
Citation Report 2004. Eleven of the top 25 science and technology journals
are Nature journals, all of which have impact factors over 20. Nature is
again the top Multidisciplinary Sciences, with an impact factor of 32.182.
The Nature Reviews series, launched only five years ago, is still
out-performing any comparable reviews series. Nature Reviews Cancer has an
impact factor of 36.557, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology is 33.170
and Nature Reviews Immunology is 32.695. Impact factors are not the sole
indicator of quality, but these figures reflect relevant, novel content
from the best authors, and high levels of usage by customers. The impact
factor of Nature Materials, only three years old, has jumped to 13.531 and
it is now the number one primary research journal in materials science.

These successes reflect our ongoing investments in our journals and our
service to customers. In May, the print and web editions of Nature were
relaunched, with a cleaner, more readable design and expanded content.
This followed a year-long process of research, consultation, design and
development. The new design and content have been warmly received by
readers. The magazine goes from strength to strength, with exciting papers
this year on the historic mission to Mars, and the inheritance of
extra-genomic information. The web edition is now compliant with important
web accessibility standards, to ensure our content is available to
everyone, regardless of physical ability. Feedback from users deploying
screen reader technology has been positive, but improved accessibility
will benefit all users.

The nature.com homepage and subject pages have been redesigned to improve
site navigation, allowing users to find relevant publications easily. In
addition to new designs, NPG has completely rebuilt the nature.com
publishing platform, with new hardware and software. Download times have
been significantly reduced, and server downtimes have been eliminated as
far as possible.

NPG has a tradition of innovation, with experimental publishing concepts
such as AfCS-Nature Signaling Gateway, the JISC-funded open-source Urchin,
the early adoption of RSS feeds, and now with the launch of Connotea.
Connotea (www.connotea.org) allows users to bookmark, index and share
important scientific papers and web pages. Through shared indexing, users
can discover relevant material they might not have otherwise found.

Information about institutional subscriptions, site licenses and pricing
is published at npg.nature.com/libraries
NPG's site license policy is established across most of our titles, and
site licenses offer great value, both in terms of access to high impact
research, and low cost per use. Early studies suggest NPG offers better
value, in terms of cost-per-article downloaded than other major STM
publishers (Credit Suisse First Boston Media; Evolving Threats to STM).
Reflecting requests from our customers, the site license policy is being
amended to provide clear post-cancellation rights to site license
customers. All customers with a license start date in 2006 will be granted
post-cancellation rights to the material they can access via their site
license (ie back to 1997 or the subsequent launch issue). From 2007, the
content accessible via a current site license will be redefined, and
libraries will have post-cancellation access rights to content published
during the term of their license, subject to a title-specific access fee.

To conclude, NPG will continue to invest in journals, increasing quality
and impact, while innovating in new and established markets with novel
products and services, inline with the needs of our customers. Publishers
don't determine what will succeed and what will fail. You, as customers,
do that, and we thank you for your continued support.

Yours sincerely

Annette Thomas
Managing Director
Nature Publishing Group

npg.nature.com/libraries

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