Friday, July 20, 2007

Elsevier Web Editions

Rollo Turner, Secretary General of the Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries, has written to a letter raising concerns about the withdrawal of Web Editions by Elsevier.

The full text of the letter reads:

"The decision by Elsevier earlier this year to withdraw their Web editions for the 2008 subscription year is causing some confusion in the marketplace when it comes to determining a replacement service for single subscriptions to Elsevier journals.

In the old Web Editions a subscriber to an individual print journal could obtain a site licence for an electronic version, the Web Edition, free of charge. This electronic version was certainly limited and gave only one year’s electronic access on a rolling basis. This has now been replaced by one of a variety of services from Elsevier, none of which are exactly analogous to the old Web Editions. Specifically libraries face a choice between Science Direct E-Selects (a single journal title purchased in electronic format only on a multiple password basis rather than a site licence), or a Science Direct Standard or Complete package (potentially a somewhat more expensive option but with the virtue of a site licence). A combined print and electronic subscription to single journal titles is no longer on offer. Libraries must now pay the full rate for both the print and the E-Select (electronic) option if they required both formats. This separation of the print from the electronic also leaves European customer open to Value Added Tax on the E-Select version which, depending on the EU country involved could add substantially to the cost (17.5% in the UK, 19% in Germany for example).

This has caused considerable confusion for both libraries and agents in this renewal season. The situation is not helped by the fact that Elsevier’s policy is that they will not, in general, deal with subscription agents for any electronic journal service. There are some exceptions to this general rule for certain agents acting on behalf of specific customers in some regions as decided by Elsevier, but not communicated to agents and customers in advance. Agents are therefore unable to quote or provide much information to libraries about the alternatives to Web Editions other than the standard print subscription.

Whilst it is entirely up to Elsevier to decide how and to whom they sell their products, the ASA believes that this model is not helpful to either libraries or agents attempting to renew thousands of subscriptions at this time of the year and may well result in the library having to pay substantially more than previously to maintain a site licence for a single subscription, or move to a potentially much more expensive package, or even revert to print only on cost grounds.

The ASA therefore feels this needs to be brought to the attention of the library community so that agents and librarians can work together to make the best of what is now a difficult renewal period for Elsevier subscriptions. We also believe that the difficulties faced by libraries in renewing their single title Elsevier subscriptions should be communicated both directly to Elsevier and also to their subscription agent. In this way Elsevier may be left in no doubt of the difficulties this policy is causing and consider revising their policy on web editions to enable single subscription combinations with a site licence as well as the other options on offer; and of course for libraries to choose their means of acquisition using an agent if they so wish. "

Elsevier has responded to the letter with the following comments:

"We understand and take seriously the concerns that have been expressed about the discontinuation of the Elsevier Web Editions in 2008.

"Web Editions were offered initially as an introduction to the Elsevier online environment. Over the years we have seen customers migrate from the limited Web Editions service to the full ScienceDirect platform.

"Currently very, very few eligible customers register for Web Editions and of those who do, most make little or no use of the service. But for Elsevier staff, Web Editions is labor intensive and involves disproportionate costs. We have decided, therefore, that it is better to focus our energies and staff on ScienceDirect.

"There are several options available to substitute for Web Editions. It has been mistakenly stated that there is no single title print + electronic option. Libraries can subscribe to either e-only or to p + e on a single title basis. We invite current Web Editions libraries to contact their Elsevier account managers for further information."

Michelle Koster, Editor, SEN

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Blogger skysivan said...

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6:26 am  
Blogger Bev Acreman said...

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4:47 pm  

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