Information Today
Volume 18, Issue 3 March 2001
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Questia Launches Student Research and Paper-Writing Service

Questia Media, Inc. has announced the launch of Questia, a service that offers students access to a large collection of quality, credible content online to research and compose papers 24/7. Questia enables subscribers to read the full text of hyperlinked sources and automatically create footnotes and bibliographies; provides instant access to an online dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia; and allows users to personalize text with highlighting and margin notes and save papers online so they can access them from anywhere, at anytime. According to the announcement, with the Questia service, students will be able to do research and write papers from their home or dorm room, eliminating the frustration of checked-out books and the hassle and expense of photocopying.

Questia has more than 50,000 titles in the humanities and social sciences disciplines and plans to further expand the service to about 250,000 titles in 2003. Users are able to search the service's entire collection for free, but a subscription fee is required to read the full text of books and to use the set of research and writing tools.

Troy Williams, CEO and founder of Questia Media, Inc., said: "Students and faculty around the world have been frustrated by the fact that quality content, such as what is found in a library, is simply not available online today. Simply put, before today, the Internet has not effectively helped students in their research. Starting today, the Questia service changes that. Most of this content has never been available online and much of it is available in print form only to a limited number of people with access to the best libraries. We believe that by providing students with 24-hour, unlimited access to the full text of books, Questia will encourage students to devote more time delving into their topics, consulting a wider array of resources, and formulating and articulating a thesis or argument. The service eliminates many of the unproductive and frustrating aspects currently associated with the paper-writing process."

The Questia business model compensates publishers every time a page is viewed and creates a new, incremental revenue stream for them by capturing the revenue they miss with single-copy sales. After the initial sale, books are checked out and photocopied by library patrons thousands of times each year with no additional revenue to the publisher. All titles, including older, out-of-print titles that currently generate no revenue, benefit from increased visibility and usage through Questia's model, which enables an unlimited number of users to read a book simultaneously. According to the announcement, Questia has found a way to create this new revenue for publishers while keeping the cost affordable for users. The company has negotiated agreements with more than 170 publishers, including Harvard University Press, Stanford University Press, Columbia University Press, University of Chicago Press, W.W. Norton and Co., Pearson PLC, Greenwood Publishing Group, and Perseus Books Group.

According to the company, a team of 10 professional librarians on staff has built the Questia collection using both traditional library collection-development techniques and innovative methods. This will ensure proper representation of all major humanities and social sciences disciplines, and create the most useful possible collection for undergraduates.

Users can subscribe annually for $149.95, monthly for $19.95, or on a short-term basis (48 hours) for $14.95.

Source: Questia Media, Inc., Houston, 713/358-2704; http://www.questia.com.

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