October 21 saw a most interesting and perhaps game-changing development in professional publishing with the launch in the UK of Bloomsbury Professional’s new online tax law service, www.bloomsburytax.com.
What makes the new service worth noting is not rocket science technology or really cutting-edge functionality but price and simplicity, combined with an unashamed resemblance to the book idiom in its presentation – a smart move, it might be suggested, in an e-book era.
The publisher, formerly Tottel Publishing, itself and, by implication, its content having roots and established credibility derived from LexisNexis origins, boasts that the key features of the service are its low price – from as little as GB£195 a year – combined with the assertion that it is the only UK tax law service to be integrated with social networking sites. Bloomsbury Professional believes that the service will be affordable for even the smallest firms. They say that the new tax law service is being launched in response to demand from mid-tier firms for a competitively priced reference service that more accurately reflects the value those firms actually derive from that information.
The core tax service includes 15 highly respected titles, which cover all the main UK taxes. Five add-on modules providing detailed coverage of specialist topics including Employment Tax, Family and Owner-Managed Companies, High Net-Worth Individuals, Property Tax and Trusts and Estates are also available.
The service uses a custom-built platform based on the Lucene search engine. The new platform, which was developed for by iFactory of Boston, Mass.(www.ifactorycom), provides Google-style autocomplete of search terms and delivers lightning-fast results which will significantly enhance the productivity of practitioners using the service.
Bloomsbury’s UK Tax Service will, it is claimed, be the only service in the market which is fully integrated with social networking sites. Subscribers will be able to share access to live documents with their clients and also share documents and search results via Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.
Furthermore, individual users within a firm are also able to build their own personalised collections of frequently used documents and searches.
Martin Casimir publishing director at Bloomsbury Professional comments: “The market is crying out for a competitively-priced tax service.”
Steve Savory its online publisher, who in previous roles has been central to the creation of market-leading online services at LexisNexis UK, CCH UK and ABG Professional Information, comments:
Ease of use is critically important in an online product and I’m confident that our customers will find it remarkably easy to get to the information they need. If you know how to use a book, you already know how to browse our site. If you know how to use Google, you already know how to search our site
We also thought it was important to integrate social networking capabilities directly into the platform. We know it won’t be for everyone, but we also know that many of our customers are already using Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook for marketing and communication. Now that we’ve made it possible to share a reference to technical document through those sites, I’m confident that proactive firms will use that function to take full advantage of the benefits that active social networking brings……If you’re only accessing your current online reference service occasionally – as most smaller firms do – spending several thousand pounds on it is a luxury you really can’t afford. So if you’re a mid-tier or smaller firm fed up at the very high cost of online tax information with pricing structures that are hard to comprehend, you should take a serious look at Bloomsbury. Our service provides a great breadth of content, is transparently priced, and offers unbeatable value-for-money.
It will be fascinating to watch the extent to which Bloomsbury Professional continues to grow and eat into the markets dominated by the major professional information providers and challenging their notions on appropriate pricing for online content. Though recently linked by way of a content licensing deal with the more technically advanced Practical Law Company (PLC). Bloomsbury Professional has no embarrassment in describing itself as “a traditional, but cutting-edge publisher of high quality books and information services for lawyers, accountants and business professionals”. In tough times, with smaller firms having to work ever harder to maintain competitive advantage, the new service might be exactly what they require.