John C. Dvorak, a columnist for PC Magazine, targeted CD-ROM publishers in his April 30th column, especially those that put monographs on the medium. He argued that the CD-ROM products are overpriced. He argued, for example, that Microsoft Bookshelf should retail for $25.00, not $295.00. The publishers appear to have added the printed book values in the mistaken belief that users want access to all of the titles. In fact, they might want access to only one or two, therefore, the comparable print value of the wanted titles should be the basis for comparison.
According to Dvorak, Microsoft Bookshelf is one of the least successful products in Microsoft's history, and almost a laughingstock within the company despite the fact that it is an attractive product. He's right; Bill Gates, Microsoft's president, recently said that Microsoft Bookshelf is a market failure even though it has outsold every other CD-ROM product. Is Gates going to lower the price? No, he's going to get out of the CD-ROM business. Both Dvorak and Gates measure success by mass market criteria, rather than the niche market approach of H. W. Wilson, Silver Platter, and Information Access Corporation.