Offline, Local Archive Revenue, With Marketing Bonus p.16

By: Editorial Staff While most papers are investing in marketing their archives online, the Columbus Dispatch is making money by keeping its back issues off line.
Instead, the Dispatch is cutting deals with local institutions to provide the content to their patrons. For instance, its 13-year electronic archive is now available from 400 to 500 computer terminals at 22 branches of the county public library. Down the road, the newspaper is looking to wire in some suburban library systems, too.
At approximately $1,000 per library per year plus a $65 charge for each linked computer terminal, the service will never be a huge moneymaker, but it will pay for itself.
"To a newspaper, it's kind of chicken feed, but it keeps the place from being repossessed," said Jim Hunter, the paper's chief librarian. He expects archive sales to local institutions to pay back the paper's $60,000 investment within two years. And, he notes, the deal provides a valuable public relations presence to patrons of public libraries.
Hunter believes that putting the archives on the Internet will never be a big money-maker, because the global World Wide Web doesn't effectively target the newspaper's core audience, people interested in Columbus, Ohio, and the surrounding area.
"We want to take care of the people who matter most to us," he said. "I think the online vendors are in a serious situation here."
Hunter's got some big plans for his archive. He'd like to make a deal to wire in state university libraries. "A single contract with them would be greatly rewarding," he said. Also, he hopes to sell to some of the city's major law firms and businesses, which may find value in tracking state legislation and politics through newspaper archives.
He thinks he can beat the premium services like Nexis and Dow Jones if he comes up with the right pricing plan. For instance, a single search on Nexis costs about $25, Hunter says. If the Dispatch were to charge $100 a month to a local business, the service would be "exponentially cheaper" than the national databases.
Hunter also hopes to link up with public and private schools and allow students to research newspaper files ? also establishing a connection to the next generation of newspaper readers. "The opportunity to put it in everyone's hands is wonderful," he said. "The amount of money we make from this depends on how attuned we are to our customers."


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