The assortment of pay-per-view movies and sporting events available from my satellite television provider seems to be booming. While I admit to being peeved when something I want to see costs extra and is not covered by my monthly fees, satellite does provide a convenient option for many users.
Increasingly, the same seems to be happening with options for information content via the Web, and in some cases it provides welcome availability to users who until now have not had convenient access. Recently launched were two new fee-based services that give individual users entree to new Web-based content options. One service charges users just to print or copy information while the other offers a pay-per-view service.
Individuals Can Now Discover ebrary Until recently, ebrary's full-text content services had been available exclusively to libraries and institutions. Now the company has launched ebrary Discover (http://discover.ebrary.com), a new fee-based research site that's designed for individual consumers and independent researchers who do not have free access through a library. The site provides access to more than 20,000 full-text books, maps, sheet music titles, and documents from over 150 publishers, including Cambridge University Press, Random House, Inc., and The McGraw-Hill Companies.
For a limited time, independent researchers can set up an individual account for as little as $5 for unlimited access to ebrary's online collection. Unlike ebrary's annual flat-rate subscriptions for libraries, ebrary Discover requires a small fee for copying and printing text, which the company shares with its publishing partners. To keep the account active, researchers must maintain a minimum balance of $1.50. ebrary CEO Christopher Warnock said that most fees, which are set by the publishers, range from 15 to 25 cents per page.
Warnock stressed that the company is not abandoning the library market. In fact, users are helpfully supplied with a list of subscribing libraries. The company also hopes that Discover users will request the service from their libraries, thus providing a kind of viral marketing for the company.
"Discover is designed to showcase the capabilities of our products to libraries, connect patrons and students to libraries that subscribe to our offerings, and provide a valuable service to individuals whose libraries are not ebrary subscribers," said Warnock. "Through Discover, we help libraries increase their patronage, enable individuals to find the authoritative information they need online, and build awareness of ebrary in the marketplace."
The Discover service also offers ebrary InfoTools, research technology that features word-level interaction with the content. Simply by selecting words, users can link to additional information within the ebrary collection or access resources on the Web such as definitions, encyclopedic abstracts, biographical information, translations, and more.
The service for individuals is not exactly the same as that available to libraries. Discover offers 20,000 full-text items, while the full ebrary content for libraries includes about 30,000. Some books and journals are not offered in Discover, such as content from Datamonitor. In addition, libraries can customize InfoTools for their patrons and integrate ebrary with databases from other vendors.
Warnock said that the site's new ActiveX controls operate through the Internet Explorer browser. This enables more efficient use and better functionality for the free ebrary Reader. Installation automatically takes place when a user clicks and agrees to download the Reader, which is only 700 KB.
Wiley InterScience Launches Pay-Per-View Wiley InterScience (http://www.interscience.wiley.com), the online content service of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., recently launched its new Pay-Per-View offering. It will deliver access to the company's e-journal and book material for individuals who previously did not have access to the full range of the service's STM and professional content. Wiley stresses that the new service is particularly useful for researchers and professionals whose institutions do not have access to Wiley InterScience content, as well as for the occasional user.
Searching content and viewing abstracts is still free to anyone. The Pay-Per-View service lets users purchase 24-hour online access to individual articles and chapters for $25 each, payable through a secure credit card transaction. This might seem high to casual users and to those information professionals accustomed to flat-rate access, but for someone with a specific content need, this could be a welcome option. Also, I noticed that the abstracts provide contact information with mailing and e-mail addresses, so interested readers can also write directly to an author.
Eileen Dolan, vice president of Wiley InterScience, said, "The attraction of the service to users has already been reflected in the number of downloads-with strong usage recorded within moments of the service going live."
For now, content from the Wiley InterScience reference works is not available for pay-per-view access. However, in browsing around the site, I found a free useful resource. The Scientific and Technical Acronyms, Symbols, and Abbreviations reference's Search feature can be accessed from the product's main page or through the Acronym Finder buttons on the navigation bars of Wiley InterScience products. One handy part is the Reference Tables, which includes 20 tables of mathematical and scientific symbols and abbreviations in specialized areas.