Although there are now more than 40,000 CD-ROM readers installed in North America, there are still not enough users to make electronic publishing on CD-ROM profitable, says Carl Stork, director of marketing for Microsoft's CD-ROM Division. Speaking at the mid-June CD-ROM Developers Seminar sponsored by the Philips and Dupont Optical Company, Stork said that there are now over 200 commercial CD-ROM products, mostly bibliographic and full-text data bases. There are few CD-ROM libraries such as his company's Bookshelf. As yet, the industry has not found a "blockbuster" product to spur the purchase of hundreds-of-thousands of CD-ROM players.
Speaking at the same conference, Michael Prussian of Meridian Data, predicted that the greatest success of CD-ROM would not be in the individual consumer application areas discussed by Stork, but in vertical markets. The potential is greatest for products such as parts catalogs, which would be used across an entire market. Success of the medium is more probable in these markets as its adoption requires only one decision--by the catalog distributor--rather than separate decisions by thousands of individuals or organizations.
Nevertheless, nearly one-third of all libraries appear to have at least one CD-ROM player. Several bibliographic or library products have sold 1,000 or more copies. This would appear to provide a sufficiently large base for electronic publishers willing to risk small losses in order to establish themselves in the market.