A "Mini Interview" with Tom Richardson, Director, Institutional Sales and Service at the New England Journal of Medicine.

by | Aug 26, 2013 | 0 comments

Tom RichardsonATG: You have announced the formation of the NEJM Group. This will bring together the people behind the New England Journal of Medicine and Journal Watch with a new logo and a new name in NEJM Group. Why exactly and why at this point in time?

TR: The world of information has changed dramatically in the last decade. The demand for specialized online, video and mobile content is exploding. You see it in the news media, in higher education, and in publishing. We are evolving to meet 21st century expectations in our field. To continue to fulfill our mission to advance medical knowledge, we need to keep pace with the demand for specialized content and the new platforms and channels for delivering that content. We don’t want to force-fit that content into the world’s most respected and influential medical journal. To us, it makes more sense to evolve other products independently and allow the New England Journal of Medicine to continue to do what it does best.

ATG: What does NEJM bring to the partnership? What about Journal Watch’s role?

TR: The New England Journal of Medicine has come to represent quality, integrity and selectivity in the field of medical knowledge. We intend for all of our products and services to extend that heritage as we meet the evolving, modern demand for essential content.

We are enhancing the clinical focus of our Journal Watch services and have rebranded NEJM Journal Watch to more clearly identify it as an NEJM Group product. NEJM Journal Watch delivers more strongly than ever on our commitment to helping busy clinicians stay informed about the most important news and research studies affecting medical practice. This new branding will help to build awareness and usage of this product across the medical community.

ATG: Christopher Lynch, your Vice President for Publishing assures us that the NEJM Group is focused on developing products and services in four categories – research, learning, practice and professional development – and delivering that content through new platforms and channels for medical professionals. We notice in your press release that you mention NEJM CareerCenter, a resource for physicians and health care personnel recruiters, that offers job searching apps and tools including email and social media job alerts, specialty and geographic search functionality, and information on physician careers. Can you let us in on any specifics that might be of interest to libraries and their end users?

TR: The New England Journal of Medicine has long been a leader with its classified advertising section for employment ads. NEJM CareerCenter is the web site with additional online information on physician careers. In a 2010 study, physicians rated NEJM CareerCenter as the #1 employment site for high-quality jobs. Librarians should know about these robust resources for their students, residents, faculty and hiring administrators.

ATG: We assume that all products and services will be available on mobile devices. Can you be specific on what subscribers can expect related to mobile access?

TR: Both the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM.org) and NEJM Journal Watch (JWatch.org) web sites are mobile-optimized. NEJM Journal Watch Online has been rebuilt using adaptive web design, allowing easy reading on any device, from desktop to tablet to smartphone.

The NEJM iPad Edition is included in personal New England Journal of Medicine subscriptions; it is also available as a monthly subscription through the iTunes App Store.

We offer three apps designed for iPhone and iPod Touch: NEJM Image Challenge ($2.99), NEJM This Week (free), and NEJM CareerCenter (free).

We are always exploring ideas for other apps or other mobile app platforms, and use market research to help us evaluate their value to our users.

ATG: We have to ask. What will this change do to your pricing structure? Are medium-sized liberal arts undergraduate libraries which cannot afford a subscription to the online product because medicine is not a primary focus on your radar? Are you at all concerned that this move may cause you to lose subscriptions of non-medical libraries? How important is the non-medical library market to NEJM Journal Watch? Is your primary focus individual subscribers or libraries? Obviously, NEJM especially is a desired title by all libraries.

TR: NEJM Group is simply an organizing structure to better support our plans for content and programs. Our non-profit mission remains the same. As all publishers do, we review and evaluate the pricing models that we use on a continual basis, making changes in pricing structure from time to time.

The New England Journal of Medicine has a 200-year relationship with individual physician subscribers. Unlike most STM journals, 90% of our subscriptions are paid for by individuals. Historically, the individual subscription model subsidized the cost of library subscriptions. At the same time, institutional site licenses are rapidly becoming a primary access tool for academic researchers and clinicians, often replacing individual subscriptions. Ultimately our goal, one we share with libraries, is to have our content used by individuals. Our subscription structure aims to balance the needs of both individual and library subscribers.

We recognize that institutions have varying scope and focus, which is why we structure our site license pricing tiers for different types of institutions. Institutions without a primary medical focus are put into lower pricing tiers with that in mind.

ATG: If a library cannot afford an online subscription, will you continue to support print subscriptions?

TR: We still send out over 130,000 print issues of the New England Journal of Medicine each week, as well as over 40,000 print issues of our NEJM Journal Watch titles each month. The vast majority these go to individual subscribers. Print subscriptions will continue to be an option for both individuals and institutions for the foreseeable future.



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