we're in trouble! - (2 points)

Gregory Tucker-Kellogg gtk at WALSH.MED.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Jul 5 10:09:03 EST 1994

Paul Schlosser <SCHLOSSER at ciit.org> writes:
 > This is not a high-volume market so the cost per copy will be much
 > higher than a news-stand magazine.  Publishing in general has (I'm
 > fairly certain) about the lowest profit-margin of any industry, and
 > I doubt that Cell makes more than Sports Illustrated.  They may not
 > have "much difficulty remaining afloat", but there isn't a lot of
 > room for cost-cutting.

Sports Illustrated pays their authors.  Cell charges theirs. The
people at Current Biology, Ltd. seem to think they can make money,
though though they could easily cut costs by reducing the number of
pointless color figures.

A well-launched scientific journal can effectively force the hand of
institutional subscribers my making libraries think that they *need*
the product (the journal) to maintain their status as a research
library.  There is no direct parallel in popular publishing: plenty of
libraries don't get Playboy even though it has plenty of readers.
(Well, there is a rough parallel through marketing.  But doesn't
C.B. Ltd. do the same?)  The scientific literature is better compared
to trade journalism.

Many high school students would use research libraries if they could.
I remember having a choice between a lousy county library and a lousy
high school library until I won a prize that gave me a library card to
the University of Maryland.  I never looked back, and was able to read
research texts not just in science but in the humanities as well.  I
didn't have to understand it all to learn something, or to be
fascinated.  But I shouldn't have needed special permission.

Perhaps one reason so many Westinghouse winners are children of
scientists is because they have access to the literature. 

Gregory W. Tucker-Kellogg
Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Harvard Medical School, Boston MA 02115
(617) 432-0930 or (617) 432-3212

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