Tag Archives: Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery

Monitoring the Health of Paid Content for Physicians

My latest column for Jupitermedia’s marketing site ClickZ is online. It examines how the New England Journal of Medicine is publishing paid online content. My thanks to the quite competent Kent Anderson of NEJM and to my clients, the trustees of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, who introduced me to him.

A reader this morning phoned me to ask why my column mentioned Consumer Reports as a good case study of paid content when that publication only sells its contents online by subscription. She’s right, CR isn’t a good case. It’s OK that CR sells its online contents by monthly or annual subscriptions. Its publisher wants to have a recurring online revenue stream and he has gotten one this way.

However, people read CR because they want to buy an item, not for the sake of reading CR. In addition to selling by subscription, CR should sell online articles by item. Because CR currently sells a monthly (automatically renewed) subscription for US $4.95, it should sell individual articles for two-thirds that price, say $3 a piece.

My caller, who works in the microtransaction field, belives that CR could increase its revenues by a magnitude this way. I don’t know about a magnitude, but I believe that CR could certainly double or triple its revenues this way. There is a sizable online audience who would like to know CR‘s reports about various products or services but who don’t want to subscribe until they’ve first had some experience with CR online. Let them get that first experience at a price point low attractive enough to them but still a signficant fraction of the subscription price. I believe that the new recurring subscription revenues and new piecemeal revenues that CR would gain this way would outway any cannibalization of new or existing online subscriptions.

By the way, pundits frequently cite Consumer Reports as a model of how other periodicals should charge for content rather than rely upon an advertiser-supported business model. What they overlook is that CR‘s charter doesn’t allow it to accept advertising, unlike other periodicals, so CR has no revenue choice but to charge for its online content. Moreover, CR is the rare case of a periodical that fits all three criteria for charging for online content.

The Success of Two Medical Journals Online

I?m returning to work this week after four weeks vacation.

Before vacation, I had the pleasure to work with the trustees of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery , the 117 year-old monthly, peer-reviewed journal of American orthopedic surgeons. It had been three years since I?d done any new-media consulting to the medical industry (lecturing at the National Cancer Institute on ?Using Third-Generation Online Technologies to Stimulate and Support Cancer Research?) and now see remarkable changes.

Surgeons are clearly using printed medical reports less and online reports more. One reason for this change may be that they simply have less time to read printed medical journals during their hectic days. However, another reason is certainly that the technologies to access detailed (text plus graphics) medical reports online has gotten much simpler. Most hospitals and American physicians? homes are now wired for broadband access. High-speed online access is particularly important because viewing medical photography and radiophotography (X-ray images) online requires accessing very large (multimegabyte) JPEG, TIFF, or PDF files. HTML (even when aided by Macromedia Flash) won’t cut it with surgeons online.

Thus much of the success of medical journals? conversions from print to online also is due to digital edition technologies. Both JBJS and the weekly New England Journal of Medicine (my thanks to NEJM Executive Director of International Business and Product Development Kent Anderson for sharing information) has been due to their sales of medical reports in PDF format to physicians. Physicians download and printout their choices of pertinent reports in PDF.

These peer-reviewed medical journals use a hybrid free-paid websites, with most of their basic content available for free, but with charges to access archives, detailed reports, or place employment ads. NEJM, with a new-media staff of two, nowadays has million dollar online revenues and sold some 60,000-PDF format reports last year.