At the other end of the publishing spectrum from the AEA are those publishers who produce low-volume publications. Some titles have few personal subscriptions and depend primarily on library subscriptions that are already at premium rates. For these titles, replacing the print subscription with an intranet license will simply lower costs. The Johns Hopkins University Press offers its journals electronically at a discount in substitution for the print.
Some titles may have mostly personal subscriptions with no library rate, including popular magazines like the Economist. Such publications might simply be offered as personal subscriptions on the Internet with an individual password for each subscriber. The distribution by network would lower distribution costs and so ought to cause the profit-maximizing publisher to offer network access to individuals at a discount from the print subscription rate. Such a publication may not be available by campus intranet license.
The Journal of Statistics Education (JSE) is distributed via the Internet without charge. It began with an NSF/FIPSE grant to the North Carolina State University in 1993. The JSE receives about 40 manuscripts per year and, after a peer review, publishes about 20 of them. The published essays are posted on a Web site and a table of contents and brief summaries are dispatched by e-mail to a list of
about 2,000 interested persons. JSE's costs amount to about $25,000 per year to sustain the clerical work necessary to receive manuscripts, dispatch them to suitable referees, receive referee reports, and return them to the author with the editor's judgment. The JSE also requires a part-time system support person to maintain the server that houses the journal. The JSE has not charged for subscriptions, receives no continuing revenue, and needs about $50,000 per year to survive. Merger with a publisher of other statistics journals may make sense, allowing the JSE to be bundled in a larger member service package. Alternatively, it might begin to charge a subscription fee for individuals and a campus license rate for libraries. Making the transformation from a no-fee to a fee-based publication may prove difficult. A critical issue is how much fixed cost is necessary to maintain reasonable production values in a low-volume publication. At present, JSE is seeking a continuing source of finance.
In general, a publisher will consider three potential markets: (1) the campus intranet license/library sale, (2) the individual subscription, and (3) the pay-per-look/individual article sale. These three markets might be served by one title with shared fixed costs. The issue of whether to offer the title in each market and at what price will reflect the incremental cost of making the title available in that market, the elasticity of demand in each market, and the cross price elasticities between markets. For example, the price of the campus license will have an effect on individual subscription sales and vice versa, and the price of the individual subscriptions will have an effect on the sale of individual articles and vice versa. The more elastic the demands, the lower the prices, even for for-profit publishers. With higher substitution between the three forms, the closer the prices will be across the three forms.