4/9/12

Bloomberg Law – Same Kool-Aid, Different Flavor

Image [cc] Bobby Cromick
[Note: I received this guest post last week, but the writer asked to remain anonymous. Quite frankly, this wasn't the first time I heard someone voice this opinion, so let us know if you think they are on-point with this post, or if you think Bloomberg Law isn't just a different flavor of Kool-Aid.]

It seems there is a lot of wonder, awe and excitement over the activities of Bloomberg Law as of late. Their pricing structure, the acquisition of BNA and the quest to ‘replace one of the big two’; all sending the library community into a frenzy. But, I ask why?

First, pricing. So an information vendor comes to you and offers “steep discounting” in exchange for a long term commitment. OK, I can get behind that. However, what is happening is not a fair exchange nor is it anything new or revolutionary. Take a look at the pricing practices of the major online vendors. Is Bloomberg really doing anything different? No.

Next, a number of fellow Library Professionals seemed downright giddy when the BNA purchase was announce. Why? Haven’t most of us cancelled a majority of our BNA publications? What does the purchase of BNA by another publishing behemoth do to improve a product already fading from the interest of our attorneys.

Finally, who really thinks that a year, two years from now any law firm will have to have TWO major online vendors? And, conceivably, that Bloomberg Law will edge out one of the “Heavies” for the long-sought-after 2nd place. Really? Firms can’t afford to dish out triple-digits a month per attorney just to make sure there are two major online vendors available with redundant content.

The associates I work with tell me they just want to be made aware of the resources available and what a client will pay for OR the firm will write off. They don’t care if there are two, three, four sources for primary law. They just want to make sure they can find their print outs from Google Scholar on the network printer.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally! Someone has seen the light.

First, in fact, pricing from both major vendors is per attorney, same as BLAW, they just don't express it that way. WEXIS is a flat-rate per month for the content you purchase. Just divide that by the number of attorneys, and you have 'per attorney pricing.' The only difference is that WEXIS DOESN'T SELL IT THAT WAY!

I was flabbergasted when BLAW came out with its 'revolutionary' pricing...that was exactly the same as existing pricing models. The only difference is the lack of excluded charges, which, if you have a librarian at your firm, should be managed anyway.

Second, BLAW is about 10 years too late. They have said that they want to replace Lexis and be the second provider to Westlaw. Guess what? That ship has sailed. There will be no 'second' provider.

BLAW will have to sink or swim on what it can provide to the firm, and I think they need to radically redefine their position, pricing and pitch.

Conan the Librarian said...

There is some excitement in my firm for Bloomberg Law... until they see the pricing. It's high. It's really high. And a lot of the content is already on Lexis within our contract. Some of it isn't, and there is enough interest in Bloomberg's other content that we have a few seats.

But Bloomberg keeps pitching it as a substitute for WEXIS, and it's just not. Bloomberg Law doesn't have law reviews (well, we have HeinOnline, but that doesn't have the most recent articles, as Lexis does). It doesn't have public records. Yes, we use these things. A lot.

Their marketing people have been pitching this nonsense to our marketing people, and our marketing people are falling for it, mostly because Bloomberg has some features that are good for marketing. Beware of this!!! Our marketing people added a few IDs to our Bloomberg account so they could get secretaries to do market research for them, and they didn't tell us about it until they came to the library to pay for it!

Conan the Librarian said...

Regarding the BNA content:

I admit, I was giddy about this. We have pruned our BNA subscriptions because the paper format is just too slow. By the time it reaches my desk, the news is a week old already, and then I route it and it sits in an attorney's mailbox for a month. By the time people actually see it, they already know everything it's talking about. The pruning never had anything to do with the quality of the content, which everyone agreed was first-rate.

We had talked to BNA many times about getting some of the content electronically, but their pricing structure was ridiculous. You want 8 seats for the tax portfolios? That will be 3 times what you paid for it in paper. There's a discount if you keep the paper: only 2.5 times the paper (plus the actual cost of the paper, so 3.5 times). Their argument: all 8 of those people can use it at the same time. But we're not having a problem with that; we've managed to share one print set for decades.

The hope was that this Bloomberg merger might put the price of the content somewhere reasonable. This remains to be seen.

Cheryl said...

One thing I am glad about is the ability at least for now to keep my current BNA subscriptions as is and on the BNA platform. I agree that the per user per month cost being offered to move them to BLaw platform (even with the ability to get all of the additional BLaw content such as cases, statutes, dockets, etc.) is cost prohibitive. My attorneys can already get that content in Lexis or Westlaw anyway. I hope they maintain the BNA platform and status quo pricing for a long time to come!

 

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