Northern Light Offers New Billing Service

Northern Light Offers New Billing Service

From The Search Engine Report
March 31, 1998

Northern Light introduced its new Enterprise Account Service on March 30. The service allows businesses and organizations to be billed on a monthly basis for accessing pay-per-view documents from within Northern Light's Special Collections area.

Northern Light said the billing service is expected to especially appeal to groups wishing to do online research but which require monthly invoicing, as opposed to credit card billing.

"We have had librarians and professional researchers who want to use our service but they can't use a credit card. That was a stumbling block," said Hilary MacPhail, Northern Light's Director of Enterprise Marketing.

Despite that problem, many professional researchers have already taken advantage of Northern Light's Special Collections, MacPhail said. The new system simply makes it easier for others to use the unique service, which has begun calling itself a "research engine."

It's a good term, because Northern Light blends together two worlds that are important to researchers: research databases and the World Wide Web.

While the average web surfer is used to searching the web for free, material from many publications is not published online, so it cannot be found using an ordinary search engine. Instead, this material is available from research services such as Lexis-Nexis and Dow Jones.

Professional researchers have long used research services, but they've not been as accessible to a broader audience. One main reason is that they tend to be expensive. Even searching for matching documents can cost money, with some.

Northern Light has continued to grow its own research database and now has more than 3,400 sources contributing to it, such as the Atlantic Monthly, The Economist and Rolling Stone.

But unlike the traditional research service model, Northern Light charges by the document, not by connect time. That lets anyone search for free for matches, and users then pay between US $1 to $4 to read the full-text of the story.

Of course, Northern Light also offers a free web-wide search service, like a normal search engine. But unlike a normal search engine, search results present the best matches from both free documents on the web and those in the Special Collections area. This can be very helpful for professional researchers, because it allows them to check both important areas at the same time.

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