Commercial Publishing via the Internet

By no means is the use of the Internet for online publishing limited to academic institutions. Commercial publishers are exploring ways to use the new medium as well. In one case, Novell corporation is using Mosaic to offer online access to reference manuals. Their Web home page fully exploits the metaphor of a bookshelf:

You can select a title from this online bookshelf by placing the mouse cursor on a title of interest, and clicking. This is made possible thanks to a feature first implemented with Mosaic and the NCSA HTTP server. Known as ISMAP, the feature exploits the ability of a windowing system to associate a mouse click with a spot on the screen. Mosaic communicates coordinate information to the server, so that software on the server can determine which book the user selected. The Novell server extends the metaphor to show which book has been pulled off the shelf, and offers a table of contents. The user can click on a "chapter" within a book, or can select another book to open.

The publisher O'Reilly and Associates has embarked upon use of the Internet as a medium for delivering an online magazine about the Internet. The publisher has taken advantage of the relaxation of rules concerning advertising on the Internet; the magazine is distributed free of charge, and includes online advertising. Known as GNN Magazine (for "Global Network Navigator") this periodical includes articles about the Internet by various authors. Once again, the magazine is prepared for access via World-Wide Web. Here is an example of the home page of an issue of GNN Magazine, as rendered by Mosaic:

Newspapers and magazines are also beginning to explore Internet-mediated delivery. The American Cybercasting Corporation pioneered delivery of newspapers over the Internet, starting in early 1991. Typically, ACC offers subscriptions to a newspaper on a campus-wide license. Many of the items offered are made available to locations that are not part of their normal circulation area, so that the electronic sales do not undercut paper sales. Because all major newspapers are prepared using computer-based systems, it is usually relatively easy to capture full text for delivery in flat ASCII form. Popular magazines may find campus availablity appealing because of the extension of markets, and the fact that a flat ASCII version will not compete with the illustrated print edition for current subscribers. Titles available from ACC include:


Los Angeles Times
The Times, of London
Moscow News
Washington Post
Washington Times
USA TODAY Decisionline
The Daily Telegraph (of London)
Jerusalem Post


Associated Press Financial Data
Investor's Business Daily
California Mangement Review


Mechanical Engineering


Brookings Review
Foreign Policy
Insight on the News
The National Review
New Republic

Another vendor, Counterpoint Publishing, has established a medium for Internet readers to explore current issues of a large number of popular and specialty publications. Typically you will find one or two select articles from an issue, plus the complete table of contents. Also included for each title is information on how to subscribe. Here is a sample of the titles offered by this service:

Several newspapers have established their own Gopher servers or dial-up bulletin boards as a way to supplement the print edition of the paper. One such pioneer is the News and Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina. [5] At least one newspaper, a weekly from Silicon Valley, sees the Web as the preferred mode of publication:

At least one book store has discovered the Internet as a way for potential customers to search for books and order them electronically. Book Stacks Unlimited accepts inbound access via Telnet to After a brief login process, you can look for books by author or title, browse book reviews, and order books using a credit card. University presses are also beginning to use the Internet as a way to market, and in some cases, deliver their offerings. One of the leaders is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, which offers a catalog of titles, some sample jacket covers, and other useful information via MIT's Gopher. [6]

The Campus Licensing Model versus Individual Subscriptions

Several of the examples of commercial publications delivered over the Internet are offered on a campus licensing basis. This approach is appropriate for Internet delivery, because mechanisms for charging on a per-reader subscription basis are still lacking in today's Internet. This model requires that someone decide on behalf of an organization that a license is worth acquiring on behalf of the entire organization (or perhaps a subgroup such as a department). Generally this model requires that access to the document be limited to readers whose IP addresses are known to be local. Readers are warned not to redistribute the material off-campus.

Many scholarly e-journals are made available at the Internet at no charge. Publishers of traditional journals are beginning to explore ways to recover subscription fees for electronic versions. In some cases, proprietary schemes are being used to allow publishers and authors to recover fees for individual subscriptions. For instance, the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) offers the Online Journal of Current Clinical Trails via the Internet. (Access is also available over Compuserve as well as direct dial-up into OCLC.) This service requires the user to install a proprietary viewing program called Guidon, and to obtain a password associated with his or her individual subscription.

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Chapter 18, Section 4. Copyright (c) 1994, Richard W. Wiggins. All rights reserved.