Although some of these new technological capabilities are not highly used, more often than not they take off and have thousands of users. Then the journal has to support the application, iterate and improve it, and find out what it indicates about what other needs the customers may have. He has been surprised at how much demand there has been for new applications.
Michael Keller pointed out that when hyperlinking began in 1995, no one had done it before, and now it has become an absolute standard. The same is true about inserting Java scripts showing the operation of ribosomes with commonly available plug-ins. People began to use them. Some of these technologies that are developed on the margin eventually become quite popular.
Bernard Rous said that it is difficult to decide which innovations to pursue and which to leave, but the suggestion that there be differential service levels also presents problems. The ACM wanted to maintain a benefit for membership in the organization, as opposed to institutional subscriptions, so the society started differentiating levels of service, depending on whether someone was a member or a patron of an institution that licensed an ACM journal. But differentiating service levels adds real cost and a lot of complexity to the system. It also adds a lot of complexity for the end user, and a lot of trouble for the society to explain the differences to the different users.
Finally, Lenne Miller from the Endocrine Society pointed out that while most of the participants in this session are publishers, they all have different business circumstances. For example, the Endocrine Society has four journals and 10,000 members. The society is rather tied to its print clinical journal because of the revenue generated by the $2 million per year of pharmaceutical advertising in it. However, the Endocrine Society does not get nearly as much revenue from its annual meeting as, for example, the Society for Neuroscience does. So, there are different business models and different business circumstances and these must be kept in mind.