There are now some 720 hybrid CD-ROM/online hybrid titles, and the number is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years. The idea behind a hybrid is to provide a link from one medium to related information in another medium. The link can be in either direction: from a locally mounted CD-ROM to a more current online file, or from an online file to a CD-ROM containing multimedia for which there may not be bandwidth to download quickly and economically.
Microsoft was among the pioneers in this area by providing online information to augment its Encarta on CD-ROM. Grolier and Compton have developed similar hybrids working with Compuserve and America Online, respectively. There are now over 12,000 online links between Grolier's Electronic Encyclopedia and online files on CompuServe.
While electronic publishers that target the consumer and educational markets appear to be the most committed to providing seamless searching to end users, the concept is expected to spread to much of electronic publishing.