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The impact of electronic publishing on library services and resources in the UK

4.5 Costing and pricing

Electronic publishing is likely to change dramatically the whole pattern of costing and payment for information. Understanding the process of cost recovery in this evolving situation would be greatly helped by the development of cost recovery models. The help of competent economists with experience in this field will be required to identify the most important factors. There is also a need for a fully costed model of an electronic journal in which due account is taken of the real costs of editing, archiving and indexing processes, and which assesses likely income.

There is already evidence that producers of electronic publications are trying to develop new frameworks of income generation, and a period of experimentation is likely. As major players, libraries will want to identify where their most fundamental interests and the most fundamental interests of their parent institutions lie, and to fight particularly for those.

Electronic publishing can give users increased ability to service and pay for their own needs for information and documentation. There is no reason for libraries to resist this trend, providing they are able to ensure that the users have a sufficient grasp of the principles of information management. In this context, the ways in which libraries plan to provide and facilitate access to electronic journals need to be explored, for if users prefer to bypass the library and collect information through an office terminal, then a new economic model will emerge.

Educational institutions would like to see bolder discounting of electronic products for educational use, and believe that this would help to promote the use of electronic publications among students who would then emerge into the wider world as proponents of these new types of information access. Public libraries, which are not-for-profit organisations supporting the educational needs of their communities, should also be able to receive discounts.

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