[This is a response to Richard Poynder's column at http://www.infotoday.com/it/nov02/poynder.htm
and on p.1 of the Nov. 2002 issue of IT.]
First of all, I wish to clarify our newly adopted name. The
name "Emerald" stems from the name of our flagship product, Emerald
Fulltexta database offering an expanding collection of over
40,000 articles from management titles published by Emerald. It
was an acronym of the product's working titlethe Electronic
Management Research Library Databasewhen it launched in
Emerald was adopted as the trading name for MCB University Press
in order to benefit from the increasing presence Emerald Fulltext
was achieving in the marketplace. In fact, when we realized that
our prospective customers recognized Emerald Fulltext more than
MCB University Press, we decided to make it easier for customers
to link our company to our products, paving the way for Emerald
to become our corporate moniker.
"Transformation" rather than "reinvention" is the word that
should be associated with MCB's change in trading name. Instead
of shaking off our past, we have accepted it, embraced the learning
and growth opportunities it afforded us, and moved forward. Our
old image taught us a valuable lesson in the power of the market,
but then so has our image of today.
Regarding our pricing policies, we agreed to an interview with
Mr. Poynder earlier this year in which we provided written responses
to 22 questions concerning a variety of issues, including journal
pricing policies. In the spirit of openness, which we champion
at Emerald, we would like to share with your readers some of our
responses to Mr. Poynder's questions as a means of clarifying
the pricing points he raised in his article.
Poynder: I understand that several years ago there was considerable
anger amongst librarians over the rate of price increase of your
journals. How would you characterize that period and what did
you do to address these concerns?
Emerald: "It was a period of taking stockreflecting and
listening to our critics. We saw the opportunity to take advantage
of new technology and to consider the potential for new business/access/purchase
models, which would help address these concerns.
"The result has been improved listening through customer/user
forums, librarian workshops, author workshops, and more people
discussing issues with our stakeholders. This was a real cultural
shift for the organizationbut one that was absolutely necessary.
"We used what we learned and we turned a corner as an organization.
Admittedly it is an uphill battle to change perceptionsour
customer/stakeholder focus now has renewed vigor...."
Poynder: Is this now a historical issue, or are you aware
of current concerns?
Emerald: "We are very aware of our historic image and it's difficult
to change perceptions. In truth, it makes us work even harder
to get things right for the customer.
"More librarians than ever now purchase Emerald products using
our new business models. Usage is rising and copy flow is also
increasing. These are all good indicators and they suggest to
us that we must be on the right track. However, we are not complacent;
we are still learning."
Poynder: I believe you saw electronic access as one solution
to the pricing concerns. Is that right, and if so how was this
intended to help?
Emerald: "Electronic media brought with it the opportunity for
new business models and to offer increased value for moneyi.e.,
more content, better deal for subscribers. This is proved by the
way that the database is used. Users search and access broadly
across the whole Emerald database.
"In terms of value for money, the maximum cost per article for
database subscribers is less than 70 cents, and the average journal
cost via the database is less than $250."
Poynder: There have been some criticisms here too: Chuck
Hamaker's review of Emerald in the Charleston Advisor,
for instance. Did he simply fail to understand the product, or
was his criticism fair?
Emerald: "Emerald's four-star ranking (out of five) was a good
start, but Chuck Hamaker's identification of areas where we can
improve was extremely useful. Our approach is to listen, learn,
and improve. No electronic service is absolutely perfect, but
informed, detailed written feedback is welcome. We are working
on some of the areas identified by Chuck for inclusion in future
releases of Emerald."
Poynder: What is the overall policy on pricing, and have
you yet announced the increases for the coming year? If so, what
has been the overall increase?
Emerald: "Our overall policy on pricing is flexibilityone
size certainly does not fit all.
"Annual price increases on databases and consortia, which deliver
a good value deal, have held steady at 7.5 percent or less in
North America. Our pricing for 2003 was announced to agents in
early June 2002."
We invite Information Today readers to visit our Web
site to review Mr. Poynder's 22 questions and our responses to
Business Development Director, Emerald (previously MCB
Richard Poynder responds:
This article was originally envisaged as a one-on-one interview
with Kathryn Toledano. I was told, however, that it would only
be granted on the condition that Emerald retain editorial control
over the final text.After subsequently receiving many critical
comments from customers, I forwarded a list of questions to Emerald,
again inviting the company to speak to me. These questions were
eventually answered by e-mail.
If Ms. Toledano had agreed to the initial interview request
without stipulating unacceptable conditions, her views would have
received greater prominence in Information Today. Having
later discovered the strength of the dissenting voices, however,
it seemed appropriate to include those voices alongside Ms. Toledano's,
clearly reducing the space available to her. I welcome Emerald's
decision to publish the full text of the questions and answers
on its Web site.
I recently read Marydee Ojala's NewsBreak entitled "Google Expands
Google News" [http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb021007-1.htm
and p.18 of the Nov. 2002 issue of Information Today].
What stands out is her statement that "Google News prides itself
on being extraordinarily up-to-date. This gives it a distinct
edge over the aggregated news databases from Dialog, Factiva,
and LexisNexis." Although this may be true for Dialog and LexisNexis,
it is not so for Factiva. Factiva provides the full text of the
complete Dow Jones, Reuters, and Associated Press news wires just
minutes after they appear in real-time services, providing extremely
timely premium news contentunduplicated in a single source
In our experience with Google News thus far, their time stamps
are generally not very reliable. In addition to Ojala's explanation
that stated "there is a lag time inherent in the updating process
and in crawler activity," the real problem is in determining when
a page is really newly updated with news versus just reflecting
minor changes. These changes, such as minor edits to an article
or even the addition of a new link at the bottom of an article,
could also result in a time-stamp/update change for an individual
page, making an article appear "fresher" than it really is. In
addition, Factiva provides administrative tools in our news service
that lets a user manage and filter out multiple versions of an
article, a productivity enhancement that Google does not provide.
An additional point that should be addressed is the availability
of news on the free Web. Of surveyed knowledge workers, 62 percent
believe anything is available on the Web (from an Outsell, Super
I-AIM study). But new research shows more than two-thirds of publications
used most often by knowledge workers either do not have Web sites
or do not make their material available on the Web for free. The
valueof Factiva.com lies in its rich premium content collection
and the navigation and personalization tools available to leverage
the content in various ways.
Vice President and Director of Global Marketing, Factiva
Marydee Ojala responds:
Pat, you are indeed correct that when it comes to wire-service
news, Factiva has an edge on just about every other service, Google
not excepted. As a Dow Jones and Reuters company, Factiva can
certainly mount wire stories from those news agencies before any
other service. Factiva also has a global advantage, since the
Reuters wires are in 11 languages and Google News stresses English-language
sources. I was remiss for not explicitly stating that Factiva
sets speed records when it comes to wire-service stories.
I was probably too quick to tar Dialog and LexisNexis with the
same brush. Nexis.com has today's news (choose Source: News Sources
and Date: Today) with a mixture of news wires and major newspapers.
Dialog has the First DialIndex category that updates news wires
every 15 minutes. Dialog's integration of NewsEdge may in the
future enhance its news timeliness. However, when it comes to
newspapers, news magazines, and the trade press, aggregated databases
are generally updated on a daily basis, in accordance with the
licensing agreements in effect with individual publishers. Since
Google spiders Web pages for its news stories, it acts on a different
The time stamps placed on Google stories are an intriguing phenomenon.
I've done extensive testing on Google time stamps and, as I stated
in the NewsBreak, they are not as exact as they appear. Your comments
about minor updates triggering a new time stamp is interesting
and would explain why some publications have prominence in Google
News. Some journalists, who first looked at Google News when it
launched in late September, commented on how often theAustin
American-Statesman appeared as a current source. Could the
paper really be following breaking news with that much alacrity
and accuracy? Your answer regarding slight edits or link addition
probably explains this. Either Google needs to find a way to identify
factors that give a particular source exaggerated prominence or
theywill have another avenue for Google-bombing on their hands.
Your third point regarding what news people in the workplace
really need to do their jobs is well-taken. Regardless of the
number of sources made available, it is the relevance of those
sources to users and the ability to navigate efficiently to information
and extract significant data that determines overall quality.
Google tends to be more relevant for those following politics,
general business, entertainment, and sports. For more industry-specific
news tracking, the trade press must be included. Premium content
is indeed key to successful research.
Editor, ONLINE magazine