DeepDyve Rents Research the Netflix Way

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-10-27

Looking to capitalize on the successful online rental model of companies such as Netflix, DeepDyve Oct. 27 began renting out its research articles to consumers and knowledge workers for 99 cents per article and via monthly subscriptions.

There's nothing else quite like DeepDyve in the market. While search engines such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo fetch content for consumers, and Vivisimo, Microsoft's Fast division and Google Search Appliance help employees sniff out content from behind corporate firewalls, DeepDyve has made its database of 30 million scientific, technical and medical articles available to anyone willing to rent or purchase copies.

Until today, DeepDyve would serve searchers research articles, and direct users to publishers to purchase content. But not everyone wants to buy a research article for $30 a copy.

That's why DeepDyve is offering to rent its content, which it licenses from publishers, to the millions of knowledge workers who use the Web for research for their education, health and careers, the company's CEO William Park told eWEEK.

Typically, top-flight research information is available only on a subscription basis from scientific publications and scholarly societies that serve large academic and corporate institutions over the Internet.

As a result, Park said that of the 50 million knowledge workers in the United States, roughly 35 million to 40 million are consumers or professionals who must search the Web and pay for research articles with no help or direction.

This is next to impossible because Web search engines such as Google won't index most of the scientific, technical medical journals, which are also behind paywalls.

"Very few of those visitors end up buying anything," Park said. "There's a lot of friction from Google or PubMed and [the old] DeepDyve. They end up having to go to multiple publisher sites. There was no Amazon or iTunes for journals or deep Web content. And then the articles they do find are very expensive, so there is an abysmal conversion rate."

For those wondering, the abysmal conversion rate was 0.2 percent. DeepDyve is aiming to assuage these pain points by renting articles for 99 cents a pop in a pay-as-you-go fashion.

Here's how it works. Users looking for a journal article search for it on DeepDyve, which scours its 30 million articles. Users can browse snippets of each article to see if it piques their interest, then pay 99 cents to read it right from the DeepDyve Viewer for up to 24 hours. If the renter decides the article is integral enough for their research, he or she may purchase a copy.

DeepDyve isn't just a dumb storefront, either. Much like the way Netflix suggests movies based on users' rental habits, the DeepDyve research engine automatically displays suggested articles based on a user's profile, and offers links to related content with every search result and article page.

Users may also bookmark favorite articles, which are displayed on a user's MyDeepDyve homepage. Users can also elect to receive regular e-mail and RSS updates of new articles and search results.

Paying per article isn't the only payment plan. Borrowing from Netflix' successful model, DeepDyve also now lets hard-core researchers choose from monthly plans.

For $9.99 per month, the Silver monthly plan lets users rent and read up to 20 articles per month. Each article can be read multiple times for up to seven days. The Gold monthly plan costs $19.99 per month, letting users rent and read an unlimited number of articles for an unlimited amount of time.

To promote its new service, DeepDyve is offering a free, 14-day trial that allows users unlimited access to thousands of authoritative journals at no cost.

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