Exact Editions: Interesting little series on open archives

Eoin Purcell

There are good reasons why some magazines should be completely Open Access — many scientific periodicals have moved to this model of distribution. They now have to pay their costs by levying a charge from the contributors or sponsors of the research reported. Also, Open Access makes complete sense for magazines which are essentially free in print; but we think it is unlikely that a consumer magazine which is completely Open Access will sell many personal subscriptions.

Seems to make sense to me
And so does the rest of it. You can read the above and its content here. The blog addresses the ideas that lie behind pretty much every news media’s archive policy in the five posts hitting on Moving Walls(A concept from Jstor), Conversion rates from free samples:

So what does this tell us? One lesson that we have taken from our monthly stats is that a significant increase in trial usage will boost subscriptions. It is actually a very obvious point, if a publisher promotes the archive of the magazine, and the quality of its back issues is more widely appreciated, more subscriptions will be sold.

Magazines are much like books in this respect. Just as Amazon’s Search Inside works — “Browsing pages sells more books”, so also with magazines. Browsing sells more subscriptions. If only dentists waiting rooms were points of sale, we would be leaving his surgery with a couple of subscriptions as well as our dental floss. Of course, on the web they can become that.

There is just so much packed into these posts. I like them because they are chatty and open, dealing with the issues and concerns of all publishers but specifically magazine publishers. And they are viewed if you like from the perspective of a relatively well placed observer whose interests are not opposed to publishers as the quote below makes clear:

Furthermore, the way our deal works with the publishers we absorb the distribution and maintenance costs of the digital edition. So it costs Exact Editions, not the publisher, a bit more to maintain an Open Archive. We think these costs are easily containable within the parameters of the small commission we obtain from selling additional digital subscriptions, so we encourage our publishing partners to offer Open Archives with a moving wall. The marginal costs of maintaining Open Access are marginal. So you dont need to feel sorry for us!

All in all a great sequence of posts with real information and insight behind them. And a very nice product too (See for example the sample edition of Prospect).

Reading more online?
Eoin

2 comments

  1. Eoin — thanks for your comment and recommendation. Its intriguing the way book publishers and commercial magazine publishers seem to be reaching for different business models, contrasting web distribution arrangements (like you we picked up on the O’Reilly, by the Chapter, announcement). But users may well end up wanting to read digital books/magazines in pretty much the same way. On the web and on their iPhone……idealy in the same account.

  2. Adam,

    I think you have a good point in that!

    It can be hard some times to accept that the differences that only recently seemed so sharp between different types of publisher are now gone or at best blurring at the edges.

    It is exciting though!
    Eoin

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