|Warnock and ebrary to Take Slow, Steady Approach
We're all aware of the demise of many dot-coms and other companies over
the last year or so, and the declining ad sales and revenue difficulties
that most every business is experiencing. My current theory is that the
companies that survive the current tumultuous market conditions will be
those with a clear understanding of their markets, a solid business plan,
good industry connections and alliances, and some solid financial banking—not
to mention a bit of luck.
ebrary CEO Christopher Warnock stresses that what he feels will keep
ebrary in business is its "slow and steady approach." He said the company
is still in "study mode," analyzing market conditions, learning from other
companies' problems and mistakes, and testing the waters with some cautious
strategies. He sees the company as a pioneer in the area of secure online
delivery of copyrighted content. He quoted his father (John Warnock, chairman
and co-founder of Adobe Systems) in noting that you can always tell the
pioneers by the number of arrows in their backs. He acknowledged that the
company has experienced some pain from those arrows, but that it's still
very adaptive and has several business models that will pull it through.
Although ebrary is creating an online library of e-book content, it
doesn't consider itself an e-book company. Warnock says ebrary is often
compared to netLibrary and Questia, but notes that the three have very
different business models with a different focus for each. Questia sells
subscriptions to individuals for access to e-books, while netLibrary sells
e-books to libraries. The use of ebrary content is more like the photocopy
model—users pay to print or save, but viewing is free. In addition, users
can choose to purchase just the specific information needed—a page or section—instead
of the entire book. Warnock feels the ebrary approach, providing a software
and content solution with monetization for its publishing partners, offers
a broader model.
ebrary has still not officially launched its own destination site, ebrary.com.
For a while, it looked like building the site was its focus and that it
was just delayed. Then the company announced its ebrarian solution and
its strategy of working with channel partners. Warnock said that this was
according to plan. He noted that the planned destination site was originally
intended to showcase the company's proof of concept.
Earlier this year ebrary announced its first public beta version of
ebrarian with the Learning Network, a Pearson company, one of ebrary's
investors. The co-branded site is available at http://learningnetwork.ebrary.com.
The site currently offers access to business and economic content, but
Warnock said the company plans to expand the titles offered and hopes to
broaden coverage to other subjects. The special site has not yet been broadly
integrated within the Learning Network. At this point, while still in beta,
there's only a search box ad on infoplease.com, one of the sites of the
network. Content from 13 publishers is included in the beta, but ebrary
is actually working with over 75 publishers in developing electronic content.
While they aren't yet mentioning names, I suspect we will soon be hearing
of additional partnerships for ebrary, especially in the education and
e-learning markets. The ebrarian solution can be marketed to a diverse
group of channel partners, including Web sites, search engines, portals,
organizations, publishers, and libraries. Partners can tap new online markets
and increase revenues by making their own content securely available online,
accessing relevant content from ebrary's collection, or combining content
ebrary has announced that McGraw-Hill Primis Custom Publishing, a unit
of the McGraw-Hill Companies' McGraw-Hill Education Division, is adopting
ebrary's ebrarian solution for Primis Online, its online service that allows
faculty members to create customized e-book adaptations from existing textbooks.
Students will then be able to access these customized course materials
from a co-branded Web site hosted by ebrary, or download their custom e-books
directly from the Primis Online site (http://www.mhhe.com/primis/online).
Primis Online offers over 450 McGraw-Hill titles that can be customized
in print or digital e-book formats. The service also includes content from
a number of business case providers, such as Harvard. Until now, the Primis
service only supplied secure Adobe PDF downloads locked to individual PCs.
The online viewing and downloading will offer students much more flexibility.
Primis will use ebrarian to securely deliver its course packs to students.
ebrary InfoTools will be customized by Primis Online to allow students
to select any word or phrase in their course packs and link to additional
course-related information. Primis Online will also leverage the ebrarian
solution to give students and professors access to the ebrary collection
of copyright-protected content from leading publishers.
Christopher Warnock, ebrary's CEO, saidthat ebrary would provide a richer
online experience for the end-user with the provision of InfoTools, a 500-KB
downloadable plug-in. InfoTools provides for faster online viewing and
aids in reading comprehension and information cross-referencing.Warnock
said the Primis service with ebrarian was scheduled to go live in the first
quarter of next year.
"Our partnership with ebrary will enable students to access their course
materials online from any computer at any time and avoid lengthy download
times. Professors can enhance their Primis Online e-books with word-level
content interaction and can also supplement course materials with the ebrary
collection of authoritative books and other documents—most of whichhave
never before been available on the Web," said Ginny Moffat, vice president
and head of McGraw-Hill Primis Custom Publishing. "Needless to say, ebrary
also provides great value to students, who have access to the information
and tools they need to increase knowledge and comprehension. The ebrarian
solution offers us many advantages."
"Studies show that providing compelling, interactive content increases
retention and is critical to the success of e-learning programs," said
Warnock. "We're extremely proud that Primis Online, the standard for educational
custom publishing, has chosen our ebrarian solution as the platform for
theire-book courseware. Not only will this agreement benefit Primis Online
customers by providing superior learning resources, it will enable the
company to further gain a competitive edge by making interactive content
ebrary develops software and services for the secure online access and
delivery of copyrighted content. ebrary has created the ebrarian solution
for customers and partners and is working with publishers and other content
providers to create online libraries of content. ebrary is also building
its ebrary.com destination site, but, according to Warnock, is currently
focusing on working with channel partners. [See sidebar at right.] ebrary
is privately held and is funded by Random House Ventures, LLC, Pearson,
PLC, and The McGraw-Hill Co. For more information, visit http://www.ebrary.com.
McGraw-Hill Education (http://www.mheducation.com)
is an acknowledged leader in educational materials and professional information,
and publishes in all media, including print, CD-ROM, and the Web. Those
of you who have not heard of Primis Custom Publishing might be surprised
to learn that the service has been around for quite some time, predating
the Web. According to information on its site, the following are some interesting
McGraw-Hill Education firsts:
Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a global information services
provider that meets the needs of the financial services, education, and
business information markets through brands such as Standard & Poor's,
BusinessWeek, and McGraw-Hill Education. The corporation has more than
300 offices in 33 countries. Sales in 2000 were $4.3 billion. Additional
information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.
1982—First interactive software program integrated with a textbook, McGraw-Hill
1989—First digital custom textbook, Primis
1998—First online browser-based multimedia textbook, Norton Introduction
Paula J. Hane is editor of NewsBreaks, contributing editor
of Information Today, a former reference librarian, and a
longtime online searcher. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.