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Martin Fröhlich and Felix Hofmann: Between Open Access and Commerce

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Published on Mar 31, 2011

How can we find a balance between Open Access and Commerce, offering free knowledge as well as the possibility of commercial profit for publishers and authors? The founders of PaperC believe that freemium business approaches will be the future of publishing. In this session, they will present a case study of how a freemium model could work to revolutionize the ebook market. One of the central problems of the eBook market is known as the "arrow information paradox": In the fields of information and knowledge, market mechanisms fail because potential customers want to know a product in order to make a purchasing decision. But if this product is itself information, the need for purchasing vanishes once customers know what it contains. Illegal filesharing, which poses a serious threat to publishers, can be considered one of the offsprings of this paradoxal situation. In collaboration with such publishers as O'Reilly, de Gruyter, OECD, and Pearson Education Germany, PaperC is forwarding a freemium model to circumvent this paradox. This model permits users to read full books online completely free of charge, with payments reserved for valuable premium functions: saving or printing pages, copying text with or without citation, highlighting and annotating text selections, and managing their research and books in a dedicated online library. Through granting customers the choice to decide what proportion of the product they want to purchase, PaperC and similar freemium models could help diminish illegal file-sharing and enhance access to knowledge.

Martin Fröhlich is a managing director of PaperC, responsible for marketing and cooperations. He has a master's degree in marketing and international management from the Berlin School of Economics and Law. Along with Felix Hofmann and Lukas Rieder, Fröhlich co-founded PaperC in 2008. The idea for PaperC emerged when Hofmann was writing his final thesis and regularly lugged heavy books between Berlin, Germany and St Gallen, Switzerland. As no online library specialising in technical and academic texts existed, the three entrepreneurs developed PaperC to provide readers access not only to selected pages, but to entire books, for free. PaperC's vision is to make knowledge freely accessible to users while creating a business model equally beneficial to publishers and authors.

Felix Hofmann is the managing director for strategy and finance of PaperC. He is pursuing a masters degree in technology management at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and he holds a master's degree in business administration (entrepreneurship) from the Berlin School of Economics and Law. Along with Martin Fröhlich and Lukas Rieder, Hofmann co-founded PaperC in 2008 after recognizing the need for a robust electronic research library while lugging heavy books between Berlin, Germany and St Gallen, Switzerland. As no online library specialising in technical and academic texts existed, he and his colleagues developed PaperC to provide readers access to entire books, for free, with the added benefit that the freemium model they developed can help to fight online piracy. PaperC's vision is to make knowledge freely accessible to users while creating a business model equally beneficial to publishers and authors.

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