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J R Soc Med. 2005 March; 98(3): 137.
PMCID: PMC1079429

Surcharge for paper version of the JRSM

It was with a mixture of sadness and disappointment that, at the last time my subscription to the RSM became due, I was informed that, if I wished to continue to receive the paper copy of the JRSM, I should have to pay an additional fee of £12 a year. I would not deny that the JRSM is well worth £12 a year but that is not the point. The reason given for the change in policy was that most Fellows now read the JRSM online. How many opinions were sought was not revealed, and I believe the claim to be questionable. Moreover, I suspect that those who took this unfortunate decision gave no thought to those who are retired. We do not have computers, paper, ink, cartridges and everything else provided by the employer. Perhaps more importantly, the retired probably prefer to do their reading away from the screen—in an armchair, in bed, in the bath, and particularly when travelling. These options are not available if one is confined to an online version.

Several organizations will have considered substituting the web for a paper version of their journal. The RSM is the only one of which I know that has adopted the policy. As a member of the BMA, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Association of Anaesthetists, I receive a paper version of their journal(s) as part of my subscription as well as a paper version for three overseas specialist organizations. In every case these journals are available on the web but the cost of a paper version continues to be included in the relevant annual subscription. And this is only within my specialty.

Having been a member of the RSM for nearly 50 years and having been retired since 1995, I resent being asked for additional money for something that I have always had as part of my RSM subscription. Furthermore, I resent having this charge imposed on me with no warning other than the annual subscription renewal form. Is the RSM so short of money that it needs to make this penny-pinching economy? If so, let it be honest and explain why an increase in the subscription rate is not preferable. As a matter of principle, I have declined to pay extra for the JRSM and thus miss out on one of the best medical journals available.

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press