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BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 16 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1419

The statement made in this editorial from 2003 by Tony Delamothe and Richard Smith (BMJ 2003;327:241-2) that “[library subscriptions to the BMJ are] 9% lower than the same time last year, whereas the publishing group's 26 specialist journals, 25 of which have access controls, have experienced falls of only 4%” is based on an underestimation of the true fall in subscriptions to specialist journals. At that time, our fulfilment system was overcounting electronic subscriptions to the group's specialist journals, so their true fall is likely to be greater. While we cannot recover the correct figures for mid-2003, we can report that in the seven years between December 1997 (when none of the group's journals had full text websites) and December 2004 (the last month before went behind access controls) library subscriptions to the BMJ fell by 44.5% compared with a fall of 39.7% for the group's specialist journals.


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