Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Buying and Selling eContent: The Buy-Side/Sell-Side Dance Continues to New Beats

Timothy King, SVP for Planning and Development for John Wiley and Sons, Inc. and Paula Galbraith of Library and Information Services at Solutia, Inc. combined to discuss today's "ins and outs" for institutional content purchasers. From Timothy King's perspective, much of the challenge for a publisher of a wide range of scientific, technical, and medical books and journals for professional education and consumer markets is to find the right range of business models to reach a range of marketplaces in which consumption patterns are changing rapidly. As with many other premium publishers Wiley sees the success of ad-supported sites targeted towards individuals and the increasing prevalence of federated search engines and knowledge management initiatives at the institutional level as indicators that new kinds of delivery and partnerships will be prevailing to get content to users in the right contexts. Preserving the integrity of a cherished print brand while pushing more high-value content such as rich media will be challenging in this environment and partnerships and alliances are certainly necessary to ensure a solid future for that brand. From the institutional purchaser's side, Paula Galbraith painted a picture of intensified challenges for a company that has recently passed into Chapter 11, which changed her focus 'radically' overnight. Content purchasing deals finalized last fall had relevance that was rendered moot by January, placing only additional pressure on her to explain why the typically arcane formulas of aggregators and publishers to ensure revenues based on total headcounts were to the company's benefit. Both sides of this equation paint a picture of institutional purchasing requirements that increasingly disfavor mass-scale, long-term purchases which may not reflect ongoing needs effectively. The focus of businesses and researchers today can change radically overnight for any number of reasons, leaving a core of content that's a given but a much wider range of content which finds its value only in very specific and context-driven usage situtations. All of this points to more models for distribution and purchasing, more credit-card purchases billed any number of ways on an internal basis and more flexible ways to combine enterprise search capabilities with ecommerce that will not hinder the ability to locate the right content at the right time - regardless of whether rights to it are owned at a particular point in time. The buy-side/sell-side dance goes on, but with a lot of new steps coming in to play.
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