Thursday, June 11, 2009

if Dan Brown can't make e-books work, who can?

(image courtesy Simon & Schuster)

Simon & Schuster will announce tomorrow they are making 5,000 of their titles available for sale as e-book files on, a website formerly criticized by publishers for allowing piracy.

In a report in the New York Times, S&S is portrayed as taking on and their proprietary Kindle e-book format. S&S titles will apparently not be available in a Kindle-friendly format, but will be available to iPhone users and Sony customers.

From the Times story:

Simon & Schuster will sell its books on Scribd for 20 percent off the list price of the most recent print edition. Amazon sets a price of $9.99 for many popular e-books, meaning titles there might be less expensive. But Scribd will allow publishers to see what is selling and change their prices accordingly.

Scribd also gives publishers 80 percent of revenue. Amazon reportedly gives publishers about half of the list price of books sold for the Kindle, but also discounts many titles and in some cases chooses to make no revenue itself from those sales.

Simon & Schuster will sell its books with anticopying software from Adobe, which means those books can be transferred to devices like the Sony Reader and some mobile phones, but not to Amazon’s Kindle.

At the recent bookcamp Toronto, one early presentation suggested e-books would not become truly marketable until publishers give up on the idea of anti-copying DRM -- apparently there's no market for e-books you can't share with anyone and everyone. Simon & Schuster and Amazon seem to be betting on other ponies.

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