It is likely, in the long run, that eliminating print editions entirely will reduce costs somewhat for some kinds of journals. However, for journals that are trying fully to exploit the new capabilities offered by electronic technologies, it seems likely that the additional costs of generating links, specialized formats, and so on will continue to cost as much, or nearly as much, as the cost of printing and binding. But even for simpler humanities journals, the experience at the University of California Press raises questions about the assumption that ongoing electronic costs will be substantially lower.
Covering Costs of Development The University of California Press's original economic model assumed that the development costs were largely one-time expenses and that there was a single learning curve and set of skills to master, after which electronic publishing would be largely routinized; additional expenses would be easily absorbed by the margin generated by the savings in the paper edition. On the basis of the past three years, it seems apparent that this assumption was flawed. UC Press dedicated 3,500 staff hours on the SCAN project in 1994 (gopher site development); 4,100 hours in 1995 (WWW site development); and 3,700 hours in 1996 (largely on WWW development and on laying the groundwork for SGML implementation). It is apparent from ongoing trends in technological innovation that Internet technology and expectations for electronic publishing will continue to evolve very rapidly for at least the next 20 years. The Press's "bad luck" in initially developing for an outmoded platform (gopher) is an inevitable occurrence over the long term for electronic publishing projects. As a result, it seems foolhardy to assume that substantially less investment will be necessary for technical research, experimentation, and site redesign and revision in the future. Any viable economic model for the University of California Press must thus assume one or two technical FTE positions as part of ongoing overhead. (Please note that these positions will not include file server maintenance and enhancement, since the
costs of file service for the SCAN project are presently borne by University of California/Berkeley Library.)
The SCAN project has experienced ongoing instability in technical staff at the library and at UC Press. Being located in a region with such a strong hightechnology industry has actually proven to be a disadvantage, since current and potential employees can make so much more money at other jobs. This situation results in long staff vacancies and repeated training on the specifics of the project. In this way, the project again faces not one but rather a continual series of learning curves.
There is a third implication to this vision of a constantly evolving future. Functionality and continually changing platforms, combined with the Press's commitment to archiving and to long-term responsibility for viable electronic access, demand implementation of a coding system that is totally portable and highly functional. As a result, the commitment to SGML seems more and more wise as time goes on. This commitment leads the Press to reject image-based solutions like Acrobat, which would require less work and which would be faster to implement but which do not have long-term migration paths. Having experienced the painful process of completely receding individual files, the Press does not want to face the same problem with a much larger set of files in the future. The necessity and the difficulty of repeated conversions of legacy text is sadly underestimated by many publishers and librarians. Scaleability, an important and underrated issue in any case, becomes even more vital in a scenario in which larger and larger amounts of material must be converted each time the technological environment evolves.
Electronic publishing is adding new duties (and requiring new resources) within the Press, without removing present duties. For example, the Press has added .5 FTE in the journals production staff (a 25% increase) to handle liaison with suppliers, scanning and archiving of all images being published, archiving of electronic files, and routine file conversion duties. This position will clearly grow into a full-time position as all the journals are mounted on-line; only the slowness of the on-line implementation permits the luxury of this low staffing level. The seven people working on Project MUSE or the seven people working on The Astrophysical Journal Electronic Edition confirm this assumption. In addition, clearing electronic rights for images in already published books and journals and maintaining an ongoing rights database creates a new staff responsibility, since many rights holders are requiring renewal of rights and payments every five to ten years. The need for technical customer support is still unknown but surely represents some portion of an FTE.
Marketing is another area requiring addition of new expertise and staff. Successfully selling electronic product requires a series of changes within the publishing organization. The marketing necessary to launch a new print journal successfully or to sell a book is expensive and time-consuming, but the approaches and tasks are familiar and can be performed by existing marketing staff as part of their
existing marketing jobs. In contrast, successfully establishing a customer base of licensed libraries for electronic product requires new skills and abilities, a substantial staff commitment, a higher level of staff expertise and authority, and substantial involvement from the licensing libraries. Marketing electronic services requires all the brochures and ads that print publications do. In addition, it requires substantial publicity efforts, a travel schedule to perform demonstrations at a wide range of library and end user meetings, and participation in appropriate LISTSERVs. There must be at least one staff member who has the requisite knowledge and authority and who can dedicate a large portion of time to outreach, negotiations, and liaison with potential and actual license customers and subscription agents. There are also demands for ongoing customer relations work, including the provision of quarterly or annual use reporting. The Press has found it very difficult to fit those new functions into its traditional marketing and distribution job descriptions and workloads. As the Press moves more seriously into electronic publication of current season books, it will surely need to hire a new person to market on-line books; these functions cannot possibly be integrated into the already busy jobs of books marketing professionals with their focus on current season bookstore sales.
In short, the Press anticipates a permanent addition of at least three or four full-time staff to the overhead of the publishing operation. For now, some of these positions are covered by the Mellon Foundation grant, and some of them have been deferred (to the detriment of the project), but in the long run the electronic publishing model must absorb this additional $200,000 in annual costs.
Finally, UC Press and the UC Library have just begun to step up to the costs of long-term archiving, including periodic refreshing of technology and the requisite reconversion of files-another argument for structured standardized coding of text.