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Abstract -- Publishing Models for Internet Commerce Commercial and Business Aspects Track
C1: The Internet for Business

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Publishing Models for Internet Commerce

O'Reilly, Tim ( tim@ora.com)


One of the biggest challenges facing the Internet over the next few years is the need to commercialize its activities in a way that is consistent with its history and its technology. In this regard, some of the most useful economic models come not from telephone service, cable television, or even the computer industry, but from print publishing.

Here, there is a similar global information marketplace with low barriers to entry, participation by millions of players, and a variety of coexisting economic models, ranging from free information supported by advertisers or other sponsors, subscriptions, and "by the glass" (or at least the bottle) information purchase. This market is further distinguished by a distinct lack of vertical integration: that is, the creation of intellectual property, manufacturing, sales and marketing, and distribution tend to be handled by separate entities, creating a rich ecology of entrepreneurial niches for both large and small players. Finally, the "editorial act"--the creation of products and brand identities that stand out from a sea of information based on distinctive points of view--will be a key to the development of future information services on the Internet.

O'Reilly & Associates' experience with both book and WWW publishing offers perspectives on commercialization of the Internet at the level of information interchange:

* Though it has not often been stated this way, what is a nonfiction book, a vertical market magazine, or a newspaper, but a user interface to a body of information too large to be contained in the work itself? The essential act at the core of non-fiction publishing has always been the design of information interfaces. Now, technologies such as the World Wide Web make it possible to create those interfaces at a much more powerful level.

* In an information glut, it is not content but context that is king. Someone chooses the New York Times over the New York Post not because of any kind of proprietary lock on content (though to be sure there is a role for scoops and special features) but rather the fact that it has developed an editorial point of view that appeals to a particular class of reader. In a similar way, there is an enormous role for the establishment of "information brands" on the net--publications that have established relationships of trust with particular audiences. This is clearly already happening on the World Wide Web, where particular sites are distinguishing themselves as central points for exploration.

* Having established a valued editorial point of view, publications have numerous opportunities for commercialization:

This talk will explore the ways in which O'Reilly & Associates is exploring these economic models in its online publications, such as the Global Network Navigator and its online books program.

                          * * *
Tim O'Reilly is the founder, president and editor-in-chief of O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., publisher of computer books and online information services.

O'Reilly & Associates is best known for its Nutshell Handbooks, down-to-earth books about technical topics, including the bestselling Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog, TCP/IP Network Administration, Managing Internet Information Services, and the Mosaic Handbook, as well as many other books on UNIX and Internet use, programming and system administration.

In addition, O'Reilly & Associates has been a pioneer in online publishing using the World Wide Web. Its online service, the Global Network Navigator (GNN), is widely recognized as one of the best commercial sites on the Web, as well as a pioneer in Internet commercialization.