Electronic reprints

Thomas J. Walker, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
9 June 1997

This is an updated version of a paper prepared for the Publication Council of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). On the basis of the original paper and an extended discussion at their 10 Dec 1996 meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, the Publication Council unanimously proposed that ESA offer electronic reprints to authors of articles in its journals. ESA's Governing Board subsequently voted to approve the offering of e-reprints and specified that their price be commensurate with the price of paper reprints. In a teleconference on 4 June 1997, ESA's Electronic Publication Implementation Committee unanimously reaffirmed their support of ESA offering its authors concurrent e-reprints.

What are e-reprints?

Electronic reprints make traditionally published articles accessible on the Internet. They may be produced at the time the articles are originally printed and mailed (concurrent e-reprints) or later (retrospective e-reprints). In both cases they are posted as PDF files, thereby retaining the appearance and pagination of the printed article.

Concurrent e-reprints are produced from the same page-layout computer files as used to produce plates to print journal issues and traditional reprints. The page-layout files are simply printed to PDF files using Adobe Acrobat software. If the original page-layout files are still available, retrospective e-reprints are made in the same manner. If page-layout files are not available, PDF files may be made from the assembled scanned images of the printed pages. Unless special (and expensive) techniques are used, PDF files made from scanned pages are larger than those printed from page-layout files and the quality of halftones is diminished.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of e-reprints?

From the viewpoint of ESA members and authors, e-reprints have these advantages:

But there are these disadvantages:

Should ESA sell concurrent e-reprints?

Selling concurrent e-reprints may benefit ESA in these ways:

But selling concurrent e-reprints has these potential costs:

Will concurrent e-reprints be profitable?

E-reprints sold at the same price as 100 paper reprints will yield nearly twice the profit. This conclusion is based on the following information and calculations:

Estimated 1995 income from sale of JEE reprints*
Estimated 1995 cost of JEE reprints* 20,250
Net income $16,540
Pages published in JEE in 1995 1,805
Net income per page $9.16
*Harry Bradley, letter of 21 Nov 1994.

In 1995, ESA published 5,383 pages in its four principal journals. Its annual copyright income from these journals totals $2524 (Harry Bradley, letter of 14 Nov 1996), making the per-page income ca. $0.47 ($2524/5383). [This is gross income rather than net because copyright registration fees amount to $912 annually for the four journals. The net per-page royalty income for 1995 was ca. $0.30 ($1612/5383).]

Allen Press charges as little as $0.90 per page for converting journal issues to PDF, but making electronic reprints of only certain articles may increase the price. Making an e-reprint requires printing the page-layout files of the article to a PDF file using an Adobe Acrobat printer driver.

[The cost of hard-disk space is trivial. The first nine issues of Florida Entomologist on WWW, totaling 1,257 pages and 51.1 megabytes, used $7.67 of hard-disk space (@15¢ per MB). Florida Center for Library Automation, which posts Florida Entomologist for free, has proposed posting articles from ESA journals for $1 per page, to be paid by ESA discounting subscription charges to eight Florida universities. Some other library may do it for less.]

The cost of e-reprints to ESA will be no more than $2.75 per page (lost copyright royalties + fees for making and posting PDF files). The cost of traditional reprints per published page is ca. $11.22 ($20,250/1805 for JEE in 1995). [This estimate is crude because some articles are not reprinted and authors buy different numbers of reprints]. The price of traditional reprints is ca. $20.38 per page ($36,790/1805 for JEE in 1995). [Again the estimate is crude.] Thus ESA's per-page profits for e-reprints are ca. $17.63 ($20.38-2.75), compared to per-page profits of ca. $9.16 for traditional reprints ($20.38-11.22).

Should ESA sell retrospective e-reprints?

Making and posting e-reprints for articles two or more years old could become a new source of income for ESA and a new service valued by its members. Unfortunately, page layouts were not made electronically until recently. Therefore articles would need to be scanned and the bitmaps printed to PDF files. This could be done for less than $1 per page, as illustrated by the JSTOR project (Scientific American, March 1997, p. 59) and the Florida Entomological Society's project to post e-reprints of articles published prior to June 1994 (http://www.fcla.ufl.edu/FlaEnt/fehmpg.htm). Posting the files should cost no more than $2. Copyright royalties would not be significantly affected, assuming that most such royalties are paid for making copies of articles published during the previous two years. [Two years is a guess. The Copyright Clearance Center provides no data on the source of the fees it collects for ESA other than the ISSN.] Thus the cost of the e-reprints should be no more than $3 per page. If they were sold at half the price of concurrent traditional reprints (ca $10 per page), the per page profit would be ca $7 per page, some of which should be spent for making HTML files of tables of contents of already published issues of ESA journals. Such tables would facilitate access to the posted e-reprints.

View Florida Entomologist e-reprints.
BioScience article on electronic reprints.
Return to Florida Entomologist homepage.
Return to Web Access to traditional journals
Return to ESA e-publication