DeepDyve is a search engine specializing in indexing and providing direct access to scientific articles. But it does so in a novel way — by renting, not selling, access.
Their motto is, “Research. Rent. Read.” It forgoes the ownership model of access. Like DVDs that need to be mailed back to Netflix, DeepDyve is based on a short-term rental period of journal article access.
Users can sign up for three types of membership:
- Basic. Pay as you go at $0.99 per article for a 24-hour rental
- Silver. A monthly subscription plan at $9.99 , which allows 20 articles at any one time with a 7-day rental, and
- Gold. A subscription plan of $19.99 allows unlimited rentals with no rental period
The list of publishers who have teamed up with DeepDyve include: Oxford University Press, Sage, Taylor & Francis, Wiley-Blackwell, and PLoS, along with many of the society publishers hosted by HighWire and BioOne. DeepDyve is also indexing open access repositories like the arXiv and . Conspicuously missing from list are some of the biggest publishers that charge the highest pay-per-view prices, Elsevier and Springer. Central
One wonders whether some publishers feel that DeepDyve will cannibalize revenues by introducing a pricing model that focuses on article access, rather than journal or database access.
But DeepDyve sees their service as reaching to a unique potential user groups that have generally been underserved by academic publishers including individual knowledge workers and small businesses. Indeed, the recent study of small and medium UK enterprises on their uses and desires for the professional and academic literature revealed that the price per article charged by many publishers was deemed excessive, considering that users can’t preview the full-text before purchase and that abstracts were often “uninformative or misleading,” requiring potential readers to “purchase blind.” The rental model reduces the economic risk to the paying reader.
High prices have been one of the chief arguments promoting article deposit in public access archives. A $30-50 article price tag for a layperson interested in the medical literature for personal or family health concerns may be excessive for many. But $0.99? One has to wonder whether DeepDyve’s existence a few years ago would have taken some of the steam out of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009 (S.1373).
The prices set per article take advantage of the psychological concept of anchoring. With iTunes, we’ve been trained to see $0.99 as a price point, a reasonable price to pay for a unit of information, even though a two-minute pop song and a 10-page academic paper may share very little in common. Still, others like Geoff Bilder of CrossRef have been promoting the idea of an iPubs service for some time as a way of dismantling the information silos built by publishers and libraries.
Outsiders to publishing and academic libraries may not view the development of services like DeepDyve to be significant and noteworthy, but I think this product may indicate that our views of information-as-property are finally changing. What the Big Deal did to the library’s relationship with publishers — and supplanting our notion of ownership with licensing — DeepDyve may reorient the reader’s relationship with libraries and publishers.
Google doesn’t want our content. DeepDyve does.