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The Internet Co. Robert Persing 16 Sep 1993 15:23 UTC

Last month, a message was posted on the Autocat list from a company called
The Internet Co., of Hudson, Mass.  The message was really an advertisment
for a new subscription agency service (which the listowner pointed out was
an inappropriate use of an Internet bulletin board).

The service, called "The Electronic Newsstand", plans to offer subscription
agency services through a Gopher.  For titles which contract for the
service, the Internet Co. will post their tables of contents online.
Interested parties can then order either single issues or subscriptions
online, using the Internet Co. as the subscription agent.  The press
release does not mention whether any fees or discounts are involved on the

The company reports having signed up several publications, including "The
New Yorker, The Economist, The New Republic, Foreign Affairs, National
Review, Technology Review, Eating Well, Outside Magazine, The Journal of
NIH Research, The Source, and New Age Journal."  More titles are being
invited to participate.

Two statements about the company's purpose particularly struck me.
In the memo, Robert Raisch, president of the Internet Company and
COO of Electronic Newsstand, says, "Our service is designed to showcase an
advertiser's products and services."  Further down, he again says that
"the Internet can serve vast amounts of information to benefit advertisers
and their consumers."

On the question of access, Raisch says, "Once a customer accesses our
service, we are able to collect information from customers actively, by
asking questions, or passively, by simply watching where they visit and
what documents they retrieve."

The idea of using the Internet to easily place subscription orders, and of
publishers willingly participating in such a system, intrigues me.
However, something about both the above statements makes me wonder what
the true purpose of the service is -- whether its primary focus is really
on selling subscriptions, or rather on providing advertising publishers
with marketing data and a foot in the Internet door.

Has anyone starting using this service for placing library subscriptions?
If so, what have been your reactions?  I'm very curious to hear real
reactions from users before proceeding any further.

Bob Persing                             "I find TV very educational. Every time
Assistant Head of Serials               someone turns one on, I go and read a
Van Pelt Library                        good book."     --Groucho Marx
University of Pennsylvania
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