Stephen Abramhighlighted the recent Nielsen Wire post, “Changing Models: A Global Perspective on Paying for Content Online” and wondered what these results mean for libraries and our business models.
I would add another component on to Stephen’s question, what does this mean for library vendors as well? How does the public’s unwillingness to buy something online effect us and does that drive what we buy from vendors?
The bar graph while pretty doesn’t give a lot of detail. Missing from the blog post and the report is consumers’ willingness to buy books online which is large emerging area. At first glance most of the resources measured (theatrical movies, music, games, magazines, newspapers, etc.) are not exactly high on the list of medical library online collections.
However if you dig deeper into the report you come across a few interesting charts and bits of information (around pg 5). Most consumers believe if they already subscribe to a newspaper, magazine, or other service then they should be able to use the content for free…AND do with it however they want. Sixty two percent of the consumers polled believed that once they purchased something, it should be theirs to copy or share with whomever they want. (This makes me think that consumer’s minds on copyright and fair use may not be in line with the law due to their belief that they paid for it they can do whatever they want with it.)
Also interesting for online journal companies and book publishers, about half of those surveyed preferred micropayments for specific content. In other words they don’t want to pay for the whole book they when they just need the chapter.
Finally, while publishers and producers try to make a correlation between the quality of paid vs free online content, most consumers were pretty evenly split as to whether that is the case. They question whether online content would really suffer if companies could not charge for it.
As I mentioned, a lot of this information is directed at general news, information, and entertainment resources, so there aren’t any direct correlations to specifically medical resources and information. But this is a look into the consumer’s mind, and while there might be some adjustments here and there due to the unique resources and content in medical libraries, I would be willing to bet this willingness or willingness to pay for access follows through to some degree. So as the future shows us new ways to retrieve information, it shows us a new way society views entitlement.