I was excited a few months ago when I read that the Machin Collectors Club Specialised Definitive Catalogue was to be placed online. Now that it has actually happened, my enthusiasm has waned.
The MCC Catalogue has its share of faults, but it is a comprehensive reference work, and I thought that having online access could only be good. However, the actual implementation leaves a lot to be desired.
The online catalogue is simply a set of PDF files duplicating the printed catalogue. The pages are low resolution - a colleague who has purchased access says that the images are blurry. In addition, printing is not allowed. The usability of this online version is questionable.
The only apparent advantage to the online version is that the club promises to update the pages on a timely basis.
Finally, access to the online catalogue costs extra, even for MCC members. The cost is £10 annually for members and £20 for non-members.
You can download some sample pages here, but these are high quality and not representative of the online version. (They should really offer actual samples, so that prospective purchasers see what they are really going to get. If you are considering buying access, I suggest you write to them and ask for an actual sample page.)
Compare this to the online presence of the Modern British Philatelic Circle (MBPC). Their custom web site covers all decimal definitives, complete with sharp images. The booklet and self-adhesive product listings are derived from their own catalogue, with other listings based on The Complete Deegam Machin Handbook.*
In other words, it is a true web site, not a copy of a paper catalogue.
It is available to members only, but there is no additional cost beyond the basic membership fee, which is less than that of the MCC. So when considering the MCC's extra fee for online access, the total cost of MBPC is one-third to one-half of the MCC.
I have not been a member of the MCC for several years, so I cannot comment on their current monthly newsletter, but I can say that the MBPC's journal, The Bookmark, is excellent.
So all in all, I believe the MBPC offers much better value. And as far as the MCC catalogue online, I'm afraid it doesn't add much to the hobby.
*Corrected an error in the original post.