Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I hope this isn't an online journal trend

Readers, 2013 is starting off with a disturbing trend for those of us heavily involved in access to journal contents online. So far we've identified two associations that are reserving online access to their journal for association members. Any one, individual or institution, can subscribe to their print journal, but only association members can access the journal online and They Don't Offer Institutional Membership (or at least not to American institutions).

I'm not going to name the associations. However, one is Canadian and the other is Japanese. These are both medical associations (I work pretty exclusively with Medical Journals.)

Library patrons have grown use to reading articles online and many libraries have made budget decisions to stop getting print for titles they access online when there is a significant saving for dropping he print.

Now we have another worry added. Before this, we had to worry about titles that ceased and weren't archived online at PMC, Portico, LOCKSS, etc. Now we have to worry about associations deciding their online presence is something to be protected from access, even if money is offered.

I pray these are just two silly associations and no more appear. Unfortunately, my years of dealing with journals have made me a pessimist.

[Updated 03/21/2013]

The count all year is now up to four. Two Japanese associations, one Canadian, and a Non-Profit that has decided to embargo their online issues for 1 year. They are open access after that year.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Consumer Marketing needs a new Director

Received in my Saturday mail Feb 2nd:
(Subscriber Account Number, Phone Number, & Sender's Signature redacted)

My response emailed at 9 am on Sunday Feb 3rd:
(Addressed to the postcard sender  his title is Director of Consumer Marketing, the Newspaper's Editor & First Assistant, and the generic Customer Satisfaction account)

I have to tell you, if you screwed up this bad in my company, you'd be fired.

I'm sure you meant well when you came up with this idea to sell everyone the Monday Special Edition. You were looking at a pile of complaints from folks who wanted a paper and couldn't find one. I hope you realize that failure belongs firmly on the shoulders of the Circulation Manager. They decide how many copies of an issue get printed.

Unfortunately, your solution took that problem and turned it on its head. I can't fathom the leap in logic needed to decide that x number of complaints on not finding an edition equals everyone wants this paper. No. The pile of complaints mean everyone who went out of their way to find a special paper wanted to find that paper. You may logically extend that thought to these people will go out of their way to get the Super Bowl Special Edition too, but you went to another universe.

Here's my problem: I get my Saturday mail at 10 pm Saturday. It includes a postcard telling me I'm paying $1.50 for a paper I never ordered. I have the right of refusal if I call you. The only hours available to make that call are 8 am to 12 pm Sunday. I'm writing this at 9 am Sunday. Your phone system is either entirely broke or it can't handle the volume. I've given up trying. I've already spent more effort on this than my $1.50 is worth and I'm mostly writing this email to help lower my blood pressure.

This might have been a good idea if you'd come up with it on Tuesday and got the cards out to your weekend subscribers on Wednesday. Then there would have been adequate time to refuse this delivery. It might have been OK if we got the cards on Friday and the automated system had an option to cancel the special edition delivery. As it is, I'm sure you're going to hear an earful from folks that get their card on Monday and had no chance to refuse.

The 100% absolute correct and time tested solution to the problem folks found last Monday is (drum-roll please) print more papers this Monday. You may have helped a handful of interested parties that only subscribe to the Sunday paper for the ads. You did nothing for the folks that only pick up an occasional paper at the 7-11.

I wish you luck in your future endeavors  Don't let the door hit you on the way out. You're fired.


What do you think?
Would you fire this Director if it was within your power?
Is my email too harsh?