Magazine article Information Today

End Users Join the Club; Researcher "Birds-of-a-Feather" Flock Together at Collegial Web Sites

Magazine article Information Today

End Users Join the Club; Researcher "Birds-of-a-Feather" Flock Together at Collegial Web Sites

Article excerpt

[Editor s Note: Welcome to Paul Gibson and the first of his new Web Watch columns, which he is planning to write bimonthly. In each column the U.K.-based information industry writer plans in-depth coverage of one or more Web sites that offer particular value to information professionals. Paul keeps tabs on Web sites that shine owing to their content their creative concept or design their innovative use of technology, or other factors. Watch this space!]

While most of the well-established online hosts are beginning to offer delivery via the Internet in a bid to attract business users, the World Wide Web is witnessing the emergence of clubs, or one-stop-shop sites, aimed at end users within particular industries. The one-stop-shop concept is not an unfamiliar one--MAID has described itself this way for years--but the conference rooms, chat forums, job exchanges, and shopping malls are relatively fresh additions to content provision.

The World Book Forum

Current Science, a division of Electronic Press. is poised to launch The World Book Forum, which will offer a wide range of publishing information from book and journal bestseller lists to freelancers' profiles. [See "Current Science Develops Online Community for the Book Trade," Information Today November 1996, p. 4.] The site will add to Current Science's existing portfolio of "Internet clubs"--BioMedNet for medical professionals and ChemWeb for chemists.

"The club concept has worked well up until now, and we feel it can easily be ported over to other industry sectors," said Current Science's CEO, Richard Charkin. "We picked the publishing industry because as both a print and electronic publisher, we are already dealing on a day-to-day basis with booksellers and other retailers. We fell that these people needed a centralized meeting place."

Current Science hopes to exploit a trend among publishers toward the outsourcing of work and a greater reliance on freelance talent. "In the old days, publishers used to have copy-editing departments, and this is now largely freelanced," said Charkin.

"There is a whole range of freelancers out there who used to have a community in the companies they worked for, but those [communities] have really been dissolved. Using this service, freelancers--whether they are printers, designers, or editors can push their work around, and publishers can find freelancers to work for them."

The World Book Forum's library will initially contain the full text of 25 journals and about 100 directories--a collection that Current Science promises to double every six months. Journals on offer include Bookseller and Publishers Weekly while book references include Books in Print and Writers & Artists. Monographs from the U.S. Library of Congress and the British Library are also offered.

Around 10 publishers will contribute initially, among them bibliographic publishers, library research publishers, and trade associations. A Bestseller section will provide a weekly guide to the most popular titles from a range of countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia.

Charkin is keen to emphasize that the site is not just a home for databases. "We try to create an environment where end users can communicate and share ideas," he said. "The clubs we create would not be possible via anything other than the Web. A traditional online service would not allow us to cater to end users in the same way."

Current Science's first club-like site, BioMedNet, launched in December 1994, has attracted 47,000 members, and its content has grown from 15 to SO journals. It also now features "a proper transaction system" allowing users to make online purchases, and it also now offers real-time conferencing facilities. Membership is free as is access to abstracts, but full-text articles cost between $1 and $15.


Riding the wave of BioMedNet's success, Current Science launched ChemWeb in September last year in a bid to cater to chemistry professionals. …

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