There are now about 4,500 online data bases, compared with 301 in 1975, according to Martha Williams of the University of Illinois in a presentation to the National Online Meeting in May. During the last ten years, the number of producers has grown from 316 to 7,133, and the number of computer-readable data base records has risen from 148 million to 225 million. In 1987, revenues of the online industry in the information library market totaled $386 million according to Williams, compared with $40 million in 1978, nearly a tenfold increase. Over the same period, connect hours rose from 780,000 per year to 3.0 million, and the number of searches increased from 2.7 million per year to 26.5 million.
The average cost per search has fluctuated over the last ten years because of baud rate changes, increases in online charges, and changes in pricing formula. The average cost per search in 1987 was $14.60, in constant dollars, a fraction of what it was ten years ago. According to an Information Market Indicators report on 14 vendors in the library market during the last quarter of 1987, top vendors in terms of usage were Mead Data Central and Dialog, which together accounted for 80 percent of usage. West, National Library of Medicine (NLM), BRS, STN, and ORBIT accounted for an additional 20 percent. The remaining major players--including Dow Jones, Questel, Pergamon, VU/TEXT, WILSONLINE, Legi-Slate, and The Source--shared the remaining 10 percent. The revenue picture is similar. Mead and Dialog received 80 percent of the revenue, the next five vendors received 18 percent, and the rest just 2 percent.
Of the 524 active data bases in the library market during the last quarter of 1987, 15 generated over $1 million in revenue; 71 generated over $100,000; 149 generated over $25,000; and 375 generated less than $25,000 during the quarter, or less than $100,000 for a full year. Vendor revenues are split among vendors, producers, and telecommunications carriers.