Zeitschriften der DMG digital

Birgit Kellner birgit.kellner at UNIVIE.AC.AT
Sun Apr 19 09:07:02 UTC 2009

Lindquist, Steven wrote:
> Why is it reasonable to allow the above process but not a single download
>> of per-article PDFs?  Either they are releasing these materials or they
>> are not.  Since they are (and it's wonderful and we're all incredibly
>> grateful), then it would be kind of them to serve the needs of working
>> scholars more appropriately.  Like almost all other online journals, or
>> JSTOR, for example.
> But, as you know, how that information is released determines the value of the issues already printed and those that may be printed.
> The setup of this webpage retains a value for the print editions (past and future), but is "completely free" to the end user who reads from the online version.  By not making PDFs available for download, there is still a value for the past/future print editions (new subscriptions, people/libraries who own previous issues, and so on).  Going through a mildly annoying process to print an article here or there should not significantly hurt their financial bottom line.  Giving everything away via PDF would.
> JSTOR, on the other hand, is not free at all: an incredible amount of money changes hands with JSTOR (libraries pay very large fees for JSTOR subscriptions; JSTOR, in turn, pays individual journals a fee per download).  In fact, many journals actually make money (rather than lose it through lost subscriptions) by making an agreement with JSTOR.
Just to add an observation here: the underlying assumption of this 
argument is that freely making available publications online will 
decrease the value (and sales) of the print versions. This assumption 
has not been confirmed by the experience of online publishing so far - 
in fact, publishers do regularly report that their print sales go up 
once their content is available online - because on the one hand, 
apparently, many readers do prefer having the physical (bound) 
publication in their hands (and many libraries reasonably assume that 
paper is a more reliable form of long-term archiving than digital 
formats that may turn out to be short-lived), and because on the other 
hand, online circulation attracts new readers to a journal or book that 
otherwise would not have come across it.

All of this is terribly complex, and as with many other things 
concerning digitization, things are far from being predetermined; a 
number of financing and distribution models for journals are currently 
being tried out. But one thing is for sure: the assumption that free 
online access diminishes print sales is most certainly not a categorical 

Best regards,

Birgit Kellner

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