To: "'seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org'" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
Subject: RE: Seminar Library???
From: Charlie Carter <carter(--nospam--at)aiscmail.com>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 08:59:59 -0500
>>Charlie, what if it existed in electronic format for those who could
>>from it. Assuming then that the cost for hard copy publications is left
>>those who do not have the means to download a PDF format.
>>I was asking if publication cost was set by profit or by the cost of
>>production. Is AISC, for example, interested more in the profit generated
>>the sale of publications or is the intention to make the information
>>available to engineers so that they can design better structures.
The short answer to your question:
Electronic doesn't save what you might think. At AISC, its a balance of
getting the information out there and paying for the costs incurred. We're
non-profit, so there isn't any profit to generate.
The long answer:
Let's use SAC as an example. I'll admit it's an imperfect subject for this
example because their documents are distributed free of charge in the end,
but I have some idea of total costs, so I'll use SAC anyway.
As I understand it, SAC is funded by FEMA to a level that's in the
neighborhood of $10 million, primarily to produce a design guideline on
steel moment frames in seismic applications for the use of the structural
engineering community. Assuming they spend this entire amount in doing so,
the development cost for this document is $10 million. Subsequently, it
will be printed, bound and distributed. I don't know what these costs are,
but I'd estimate that they will be in the neighborhood of $200,000. Even if
I'm way off with this number, it really isn't important for this exercise
because it's the relative orders of magnitude that are of interest here.
The $10 million development cost exists whether you publish in hard copy or
electronically. Said another way, the only cost you're affecting when you
publish electronically is the $200,000 estimate above. And who knows what
the electronic publishing cost will be anyway. It might be nominal if you
just use a PDF file, but could be quite substantial if you want to do build
some advanced functionality into the document (i.e., have it be more than a
picture of the book on the screen).
If SAC were to sell their document, they'd have to consider all these costs
and their end motive (service, non-profit, for-profit, etc.). Being as they
are FEMA funded, I guess that puts them in the service category.
As far as AISC goes, we're non-profit. That means all of the income we have
(publication sales is a part of that) is loosely balanced against the cost
of keeping the doors open, lights on and engine humming.