Electronic reprints
T.J. Walker, University of Florida, Gainesville
Prepared for the meeting of Entomological Society of America (ESA) Publication Council
10 Dec 1996, Louisville, KY

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 the original 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 original 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:

Should subscription income be threatened, its loss can be prevented or countered in a variety of ways—for example, by rationing concurrent e-reprints; by giving a discount for delayed posting or charging a premium for immediate posting; or by raising the cost of e-reprints to compensate for lost subscription income.
As an author/member I consider this a benefit rather than a cost. ESA members and their institutions already pay much for the more limited access the present system permits—through membership dues, page charges, reprint charges, personal and institutional subscriptions, and non-subscription costs of maintaining access to journals in research libraries. If e-publication supplants traditional publication, the total cost of publication will go down. ESA should plan to maintain its publication profits without charging researchers per-use for access to ESA articles on the Internet. In 1995, all but one member of ESA's Electronic Publication Committee agreed that “free-journal-articles on the Internet is the preferred approach for ESA to take” (Report of the Electronic Publication Committee, 17 Nov 1995).

What should ESA charge for concurrent e-reprints?

If ESA elects to sell concurrent e-reprints, it must establish a price. The price will depend on profits sought and on the direct and indirect costs of the product. Here are estimates of these:

Estimated 1995 income from sale of JEE reprints* $36,790
Estimated 1995 cost of JEE reprints* 20,250
Net income$16,540
Pages published in JEE in 19951,805
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 four totals $2524 or $0.47 per page (Harry Bradley, letter of 14 Nov 1996).
Painter Printing charges the Florida Entomologist Society $2.40 per page for the PDF files that FES posts on WWW. I produce my own PDF files for much of what I post on WWW. The process is as simple as sending a file to a printer for printing.
[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, is considering a proposal to post articles from ESA journals for $1 per page, to be paid by ESA discounting subscription charges to eight Florida universities.]

Here are the prices that result from applying the above estimates:

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. If the page-layout files are still available, making PDF files should cost the same or very little more than for concurrent e-reprints. Similarly, posting the files would cost little more. 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 about $5 per page. If $10 per page were charged, some of the profits could be used to pay for e-publishing tables of contents of already published issues of ESA journals.

If page-layout files of requested retrospective e-reprints were never made or are not still available, the pages of the article would have to be scanned and assembled to make the PDF file, increasing the cost of the e-reprint a few dollars per page.

The Florida Entomological Society has funded a project to establish this cost for Florida Entomologist articles.

More on e-reprints

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