Now that Doody Enterprises is 25-year-old institution in the health sciences publishing industry that has even spun off a company (Doody Consulting), it’s tempting to look back and think that its success was preordained. It wasn’t.
Certainly, in the early years, I was a consistent naysayer. This started when Dan was first informing key people in the industry about the company he was forming, back in 1993. From my new position as VP, Medical Publishing, at J. B. Lippincott Co., I remember telling Dan that his proposed company was beautifully crafted idea and would be a real service to the industry, but I didn’t see how he could make a living at it. Despite that bad prediction, Dan asked me to serve on the Publisher’s Advisory Board he was forming, and I agreed.
Maybe a year later, Dan asked the Publisher’s Advisory Board if Doody’s Journal, then in print, should accept advertising. I wasn’t supportive – it would involve production and billing hassles, and it might jeopardize Doody’s prized position as “Switzerland” within the industry. Fortunately, Dan didn’t listen. Advertising became a critical revenue stream, and I don’t think anyone has ever had reason to worry that advertising, in this instance, influences editorial content.
Then came 1995. Presumably spurred on by Steve Haiman, who had designed the “paperless” (but not book-less) office for Doody Enterprises, Dan started an online version, logically called Doody’s Electronic Journal. With virtually all medical libraries starting to receive online versions of medical journals, Dan started thinking that maybe Doody’s could dispense with the print version altogether and go pure digital. This, I said, was incredibly dangerous. Sure, medical journals were publishing digital versions, but the paper version was the version of record, the one that people could hold in their hands. If you went pure digital, you’d be ephemeral. More importantly, there were few if any publications of any kind that charged money for a purely online product. It was one thing to add a few bucks to the price of the subscription to the paper product, a totally different thing to charge money for people to receive nothing but online content. Again, Dan was polite, but he didn’t listen. Doody’s Review Service is arguably the oldest purely digital publication in the health sciences, and the agility of Doody Enterprises in the digital space has continued to serve it well.