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    Speculations on Marketing Strategies

    We have tried to speculate on options for library-oriented strategies for the introduction of online books. For example, one might imagine that online versions are made available for little or no additional cost to purchasers of paper copies. One might hope to see entire collections of online material priced very attractively. On the other end of the bundling spectrum, one might see some kind of on-demand licensing, or on-demand print ordering. The netLibrary is offering yet another alternative by mimicing the circulation system for print books. It provides online books to individual libraries or library consortia and allows just one user at a time for each book. Other marketing strategies are more reader-oriented and less tailored to the concerns of a library. These include Questia's effort to build an online book collection the size of a college library (250,000 volumes) and to sell subscriptions to students. Another path is the hand-held device and downloadable book that is now coming to market. Generally speaking, in reader-oriented strategies, pricing of the electronic form will be unrelated to print purchase, as there is little chance that consumers can be persuaded to buy the same "book" twice.

    We speculate, but at this point can only ask, whether different strategies will emerge for different classes of print materials such as text books, scholarly books, and narrow interest (sometimes called endangered) scholarly books.

    At the end of our study it appears that a number of transitional strategies are available or being developed. The leading one is the dual provision by publishers of publications in print and online. Among other virtues of the strategy, there is the possibility of electronic publication of both a backlist (the books that have been available for over a year) and a front list (the books newly published). Since publishers still need to protect ultimate paper sales, some limits may be placed on the accessibility or functionality of new titles that are presented in front-list form.