In the first few months after rolling out its Digital Review Copy Module—known to most industry members as e-galleys—at last year’s BookExpo America, Edelweiss had slow pickup in its new service. That began to change toward the end of 2011, and now John Rubin, president of Edelweiss’s parent company, Above the Treeline, believes the program is poised for more rapid growth. With the addition of Simon & Schuster to Edelweiss’s catalogue and e-galley services earlier this month, four (including Random House, Penguin, and HarperCollins) of the big six houses are using the e-galley service with Macmillan set to come on board soon. As of late February, the 16 active publishers had loaded about 600 titles, Rubin said. The higher participation rates resulted in 5,000 e-galley downloads in January.
The move into “DRCs” is a “natural extension for us,” Rubin said, noting that the service taps into the same industry members who use Edelweiss to receive digital catalogues—independent and chain booksellers, and librarians—as well as a growing number of professional book reviewers, bloggers, and media members. The service is similar to that of industry pioneer NetGalley in that it stamps PDF/EPub files with DRM that allow a publisher to take requests or to grant access to registered Edelweiss readers. Publishers can set a time limit for how long e-galleys can be used, and e-galleys can be used on most devices. Rubin explained that if a user is browsing through an Edelweiss catalogue and a review copy has been loaded, the “request” or “download” button (if the user has been approved) will appear as well. Publishers pay a fee to load the files and again when a galley is downloaded. Edelweiss sends publishers a monthly statement that shows the fees as well as a recap of the month’s download activity.
Edelweiss offers a number of tools to help publishers qualify people who they want to receive the galleys, and Edelweiss has developed its own program to validate a list of qualified Barnes & Noble employees eligible to receive galleys. The service can also be used for sending digital examination copies of academic titles, and Rubin said he is eager to broaden that option.
As the DRC option gains traction, Rubin’s goal is to have all 72 Edelweiss catalogue clients try the e-galley service by this year’s June BEA.