Thanks Charlie, your answer does give me a better understanding for how AISC
One last questions - has AISC considered, in the long run, that there is a
need to make some information searchable online? For example, what if an
engineer needs information related to beams used in 1933? Is this resolved
with a long distance phone call? Does the engineer need to purchase a
resource? Or, is their a way or a plan to make this information available
online as a service to the community?
In a message dated 6/14/99 8:08:34 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
<< 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.