Notes from my interview with Alacritude's CEO Patrick Spain on the Windows Office 2003 content deal:
1. Factiva, Gale Group and Alacritude's eLibrary are the 3 content providers to Office 2003's new reference section.
2. Users will have to be plugged into the Net to be able to use the reference service because obviously all that content can't sit in everybody's PC.
3. When users decide to search on a term, they'll click on a tab that will appear at the right side of their screen and highlight the term in their text they want to search on. They'll then see a list of headlines and "abstracts" from eLibrary. Spain's hoping they will be so enthralled with the content that some will pop for a $14.95 monthly or $79.95 annual subscription to access entire articles.
4. Spain says his team have tested that price point extensively and it works the best for them. I was slightly surprised about the $79.95 because many print subscription people have told me that "If you can get $70, you can get $90. There's virtually no difference in response."
Spain added that he picked the .95 endings to prices because, "somebody who I respect said 'don't question it, don't try and research it, it works if everything ends in a 5.'" Which I completely respect.
5. So far eLibrary subscription buyers have been "pretty evenly split" between the month-to-month and annual subs, which is unusual in the word of esubs where, if offered, annual almost always dominates monthlies. Spain says this is probably because they are purely a reference product vs something relied on for new content through the year.
6. All the eLibrary content that will be available through Office 2003, is fed to eLibrary from ProQuest.
If you are a publisher who sells to Proquest (and thousands of print periodicals and newspapers do), and you fear that eLibrary's $15/mo subscription offer might undercut your own online subscription offerings for more money for the same content, Spain suggests that you revisit your Proquest contract and change the resale rights they have. Most contracts specify whether they can sell your content as an aggregated feed into library, education, business and consumer markets. eLibrary only carries the stuff that's ok for resale to consumers.
7. Aside from offering subs to its own database of articles, eLibrary will also be offering its subscribers search capabilities across all the other sites they subscribe to. You can go to one eLibrary panel, input the sites you subscribe to and your password to those sites, and whenever you run a search, results will show up from everything.
Which is handy for serious research hounds who don't want to have to go to say WSJ.com and Economist.com and search separately for the same topic.
Spain says to make this work, "we have to write a script based on the way each site operates." They've done it for "several hundred" subscription sites so far. They don't want to do it for teeny sub sites that they'll have very little call for articles from, but if you want to make sure your site is on the list, contact VP Marketing Kathy Greenler at email@example.com .
8. Aside from his high hopes for the Office 2003 deal, Spain says his best marketing campaign to drive new eLibrary subscribers so far has been paid inclusion with search engines using inktomi's service.
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