For any organization with content markets outside North America, the ability to deliver content to handheld devices will be crucial, given the preference in many countries for such devices over personal computers.
"Initially, we thought online-only would be most attractive to subscribers overseas. But we soon discovered that U.S. physicians found the online-only subscription option on their own, without any promotion," said Anderson. "So we accepted their choice and began promoting it domestically, overcoming the cannibalization fear."
NEJM recognizes the PDA is taking the place of the "fat little notebook" in the coat pockets of many physicians. A subscriber can use a wired or wireless PDA, or other handheld devices, to access full texts of the current NEJM plus the archive of all articles back to 1996, arranged in 51 topics. A subscriber can also use a PDA to request a PDF of an article (including medical imagery) be e-mailed to his PC.
"I'm very enthused about the future of electronic media in communicating medical research results and educating physicians and trainees," Anderson said. "The rate at which de facto standards like PowerPoint, digital video, and MP3 are propagating themselves hints at new forms of editorial expression emerging and being easily adopted. It's the best way to communicate rapidly with a large and growing audience."
"The habits of trainees show that they will expect completely linked information access for their entire professional lives. It sometimes makes my head spin, but then I get back to taking it step by step. That's the only way to untangle this future we're headed toward, I guess."