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Rising prices, industry changes discombobulating online newsletter publishers.

Publishers are feeling the dot-com turmoil with the two leading application providers (ASP) for the newsletter and specialized information industry raising their prices, while a recently formed online publishing and distribution firm, PublishOne, has been acquired by a NASDAQ company.

INFOCON AMERICA, one of the industry leaders in online publishing has raised its fee structure for this year for publishers who want to tap into its "InfoWeb E-commerce Service."

Another change by INFOCON that can affect many newsletter publishers is its decision to no longer offer NewslettersOnline.com as a stand-alone service.

In the past, publishers could upload the editorial content of their newsletters to INFOCON, which in turn would offer this content through NewslettersOnline.com and collect payment when the content was downloaded.

INFOCON signaled its intention to raise the fee structure in a letter to those attending the Miami conference of the Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Association (NEPA) in December, in which it urged publishers to sign up before December 31 to avoid the fee increase. But in the case of Application Programming and Development Inc. (APDI), another leading ASP for publishers, the notification that it was doubling its rates for its Largo internet services came without warning and in the form of a FedEx letter (NL/NL 2/15/01).

One of the principal investors in APDI, Tim Baskerville (see sidebar at left), told NL/NL, "APDI is continuing to serve publisher clients and is also developing next-generation software.

"The recent price increases in Largo have resulted in some clients moving to other services that are more in line with their budgets and feature requirements," Baskerville said. "Those clients who need the full functionality of Largo are staying aboard, and APDL expects to continue to serve them."

As a result of Largo's action, INFOCON has picked up some new customers, including the Institute of Management & Administration (IOMA), a subsidiary of the Bureau of National Affairs.

INFOCON's letter to those at the NEPA conference in Miami stated:

"In the past our strategy in selling our InfoWeb E-commerce Service was to gain market share, and it worked as we are currently the leader in online publishing solutions for business-to-business publishers. But we don't currrently make money on the initial implementations of new publisher customers, while providing the best of breed technology."

Fighting the "price perception thing"

Mark A. Hartsell, INFOCON president and CEO told NL/NL that his company has been fighting the high-cost "price perception thing" for a long time. Publishers don't realize the amount of man-hours and time, he said, along with the expensive software and hardware and the technology that is needed to convert the data and to get the web site up and running.

INFOCON promotes itself as a three-tier, online publishing management solutions company:

"With a single upload, the information is immediately available for sale through the publisher's web site using the InfoWeb E-commecrce Service; through NewslettersOnline.com, the destination for b-to-b information; and through INFOCON AMERICA's Business Information Network of web site partners."

Harts ell reported that INFOCON is "growing and we're profitable. ... We had a very nice little profit in January and we feel good about that. ...and as we get more publisher customers our sales and profit potential just builds on itself."

Hartsell indicated that INFOCON "may in the future offer NewslettersOnline.com as a standalone but at the present time the company is focused on its InfoWeb E-commerce Service and helping the publisher to build an online publishing solution into the publisher's site."

Until recently publishers could link into the NewslettersOnline site without committing to the full line of other services offered by INFOCON.

Publishers would receive a royalty payment when their editorial content was downloaded. The royalties generated by the editorial content was split between INFOCON and the publisher.

INFOCON would usually establish a minimum annual royalty base for each publisher, depending on the number of publications online. If the royalties failed to meet that figure, then the publisher was to remit the difference between that base figure and the actual royalties paid by the users.

NewslettersOnline was part of Impresso Inc. until last March when that company merged with INFOCON AMERICA (NL/NL 2/15/00).

PublishOne Sold

Another development of interest to the newsletter industry was the announcement that PublishOne Inc. (NL/NL 10/15/00), which integrates advanced digital rights management (DRM) and protection technologies, has just been acquired by the InterTrust Techologies Corp., a NASDAQ-listed firm (ITRU).

Founded in 1999, PublishOne (www.publishone.com) provides online publishing and distribution services for publishers of business information. This includes online encryption and hosting, secure commerce transactions, subscription management, customer support, and comprehensive online reporting.

Kirk Loevner, PublishOne founder and CEO, said, "By combining our services with InterTrust's platform, PublishOne will be able to accelerate the development of new services for the business publishing community as well as expand into new markets."

InterTrust has been a partner with PublishOne since its founding. Loevner will now become the senior vice president of sales and marketing for InterTrust.
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Newsletter on Newsletters LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Marshall, Jim
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Feb 28, 2001
Words:837
Previous Article:Update on Tim "Many Hats" Baskerville.
Next Article:Charles Henderson forms strategic partnership with Wolters Kluwer's DRUGFACTS.COM.


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