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NewspaperDirect Launches Library Service
Posted On January 12, 2004
From hotel rooms to reading rooms. This week, NewspaperDirect, a digital delivery service for daily online editions of over 185 newspapers from around the world, will introduce a service for libraries at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in San Diego. The new service can deliver same-day editions of 160 out-of-state and international newspapers from 28 countries. Libraries will have two options for receiving material: direct connection to NewspaperDirect via the Web through dedicated workstations inside the libraries or Print-on-Demand (POD) news feeds for printing by library staff, a service already beta-tested by Vancouver Public Library for maore than a year. As stipulated in contracts with publishers, NewspaperDirect does not allow delivery of digital versions of papers within areas served by print editions. Titles include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Le Monde, Yomiuri Shimbun, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal (multiple editions), etc. The library service constitutes an institutional version of NewspaperDirect's consumer service,

"The selection, cost-effectiveness, and timeliness of our new service surpass traditional delivery," said NewspaperDirect vice president of sales and marketing, Richard K. Miller. "Our pilot at the Vancouver Public Library demonstrates that libraries can cut costs, reduce waste, and offer a wider selection of newspapers with our service." Currently, the company delivers to distribution outlets in 66 countries, including some 300 hotels, as well as cruise ships, airlines, retail outlets, corporate offices, and home subscribers.

The service offers three types of monthly subscriptions: Economy ($9.95 a month for up to 25 issues/10 bookmarks/up to three back issues), Basic ($19.95/70 issues/30 bookmarks/seven back issues), and Advanced ($29.95/120 issues/100 bookmarks/14 back issues). All the payment plans allow full-text searching within a newspaper title and charge an additional 79 cents per issue over and above the subscription amount.

According to Miller, the new library version of this service will allow patrons to search and select specific titles, bookmark sections, and check back issues for up to 2 weeks. Libraries will pay $200 a month for the Web service. Miller recommended dedicated workstations, but said that any setup supporting broadband speed, such as networked stations, should work. The Print-On-Demand library service requires librarians to select newspaper titles in advance and pay around a dollar an issue for whatever they decide to print.

Papers come from all over the globe and in over 25 languages: Latin America (11), Arab states (9), Western Europe (56), Eastern Europe and Russia (36), Pacific/Asia (19), and North America (45). NewspaperDirect delivers papers "outside their original markets" in 11" x 17" (A3) format replicas of locally-printed editions. Publishers transmit files to NewspaperDirect daily in PDF and NewspaperDirect processes the material to improve printing on standard laser printers and viewing replicas online in browsers.

Publishers receive data that track the number and location of copies sold, with each copy counting toward ABC audited circulation. For the POD service, circulation increases when a library prints each issue for daily posting on the shelves. For the Web-based service, every time a person clicks past the first page of a newspaper, NewspaperDirect logs in a circulation record for the publisher.

Vancouver Public Library (VPL; began using the POD version of NewspaperDirect in a pilot project on December 2002 with a selection of seven international papers available for printing on-site at the Central Branch in the Newspapers and Magazines division. NewspaperDirect installed its NDprintstation software to handle the POD service with turnaround times of less than 5 minutes for printing out an entire issue. Since the service began, VPL has expanded the availability to 22 newspapers with outlets added for the Business Division and six participating branches. Content access varies for different sites in the VPL system.

Mark Hoep of the Newspapers and Magazines division praised the service. He considered the images excellent and found the print production system very efficient. In some cases, NewspaperDirect's prompt delivery produces papers before print editions could be delivered. For example, Hoep said, the Los Angeles Times used to take a month or more to arrive and cost $2500-$2800 a year, while the NewspaperDirect version comes each morning and costs half that. When the Chicago Tribune stopped shipping outside the U.S. after Sept. 11, NewspaperDirect filled the gap, according to Hoep. However, Hoep advised librarians considering the NewspaperDirect POD service to look at each individual title for usage, price, staff time to print and store newspapers, etc. They should also examine content restrictions, not just the barring of "local" titles, but the absence of inserts or syndicated material. Currently, Hoep expects to look seriously at the Web version as an alternative.

Digital delivery of newspapers remains a competitive area. For example, Hoep pointed out that CanWest (, a leading Canadian newspaper publisher, has begun offering printable PDF directly. Access to this service would skirt the NewspaperDirect prohibition against local Canadian papers for VPL. NewsStand, a U.S.-based service (, poses a prime competitor to NewspaperDirect. Miller said that the "smorgasbord" approach in NewspaperDirect's subscription access to 160 papers posed an alternative to NewsStand's title-by-title subscription model. Competition continues to work to the advantage of the smart consumer.

Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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