Reciprocal in Deals with Aberdeen, HM
Reciprocal, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based digital rights management services company, has announced deals with IT industry analyst Aberdeen Group and with Houghton Mifflin Company to provide e-commerce support for their publications.
Aberdeen publishes reports that analyze computer hardware and software combinations and other information technology systems. According to Aberdeen founder and chairman John Logan, because his clients are responsible for enterprise-wide adoption of systems at some of the world's largest companies, both the time pressure and fiscal responsibilities can be daunting. "Our ability to provide our high-value, copyright-protected research information to IT executives quickly in a secure and profitable online distribution system is an enormous benefit to Aberdeen and our clients," he said.
Reciprocal has been developing three e-commerce models for Aberdeen. First, customers can purchase materials in individual downloads. Second, client companies can buy site-license subscriptions covering all employees' access to all of Aberdeen's publications for the previous 12 months. Finally, in a model that points to possible retail models for the publishing industry as a whole, a third-party syndicate, or distributor network, will allow sales beyond the small circle of clients, while still maintaining secure copyrights.
The Aberdeen Publications Online service is available at www.aberdeen.com.
Houghton's Successful Pilots
Following a year of successful test programs at Stanford University and SUNY Buffalo, Houghton Mifflin has chosen the electronic Publishing Clearing Service (ePCS) from Reciprocal and ContentGuard as its digital rights management provider.
In the pilot programs, Reciprocal managed the delivery of HM texts in Adobe PDF format to students' dorm-room computers, with a number of viewing and purchase options.
"These real-world tests clearly demonstrated that college students and their professors want a choice of whether to purchase a physical text or a digital text," said June Smith, executive v-p of HM's college division. "Thanks to Reciprocal's digital rights management services, Houghton Mifflin will be able to offer that choice."
E-books to Get Classroom Trial
DigitalOwl, a new Internet software company based in Winter Park, Fla., has announced plans to sponsor a trial substitution of electronic books for traditional textbooks in three area public schools this fall.
The trial will run from August to December, and will include students from a broad range of academic and social backgrounds at Winter Park High School; Excel Alternatives, an alternative-format school for continuing education; and a third school to be determined.
One of DigitalOwl's principal investors will supply up to 100 laptop computers or e-book reader devices containing digitized texts and DigitalOwl's security and viewing software.
"In this closed trial, our mission is to gather information to provide to publishers," said Kirstie Chadwick, DigitalOwl's president and CEO. "We expect the trial to show that students are more receptive and eager to learn beyond the textbook itself." To this end, the trial will cover several grade levels and different kinds of devices, to provide feedback on the utility of e-books in a variety of situations.
Substituting electronic texts will help eliminate damaged and out-of-date books, Chadwick asserted. And by using DigitalOwl's Kinetic Edge suite of publishing, security, e-commerce and customer-support software, teachers and students will be able to make use of customized editions and special functions, enhancing the students' learning experience. Chadwick indicated that the final selection of publishers and texts would take some time, as the company was trying to provide materials for as many disciplines as possible, not just the occasional math or geography text. As an incentive to take care of the reader devices, the students will get to keep their machines at the end of the trial.
Lightning Source To Do E-books in Adobe PDF
In a move to broaden the availability of e-books at retail quickly, Lightning Source, Ingram Industries' e-book distribution arm, has announced it will distribute titles to retailers using Adobe Systems' PDF Merchant software beginning this month. The move makes e-books in the PDF format easier to purchase (BookZone, Adobe In Pact, below). Adobe Acrobat Reader has been available for free since 1994, enabling users to look at books in their publishers' original design format on any kind of standard computer running Windows, Macintosh, Unix or Linux. Last September, Adobe added to Acrobat PDF Merchant e-commerce and security software for publishers and Web Buy for consumers, to help automate retail sales via the Internet.
"Adobe's Acrobat Reader has the largest installed base of any e-book software, with 160 million users worldwide," according to J Eschbach, v-p, ePaper solutions group, at Adobe. "Forty million people have the latest version, Acrobat 4.05, with Web Buy software." Ed Marino, president and CEO of Lightning Source, said, "This is a pivotal move for both companies. It significantly bolsters the market positions of Lightning Source and Adobe. It will bring more flexibility to our customers and give them more ways to get their titles into the hands of consumers. Both publishers and booksellers will be able to meet changing consumer demands by offering books in a variety of formats." In contrast to Adobe Acrobat, only about 15,000 specialized handheld devices can use some form of XML format, on which the Open eBook format is based, and seven million devices use the Palm operating system. Microsoft's Reader software, to be unveiled later this summer, will enable the 200 million Windows users to view e-books without Acrobat.
Lightning also in Amazon Deal
In a second deal just before BEA, Lightning reached an agreement with Amazon.com to offer Lightning's 9,000 print-on-demand titles to the e-retailer's customers. Under the agreement, when a customer orders a title from Amazon that is in Lightning's digital library, Lightning will print the title in whatever quantity the order is for, then ship the books to Amazon, which will then ship the order to the customer.
To help speed delivery of titles to Amazon, Lightning will open a second printing facility on the West Coast before the end of the year. Also as part of the agreement, Amazon will work with Lightning to encourage publishers to provide additional titles to Lightning's print-on-demand library. "The agreement is an important way for us to get new titles," a Lightning spokesperson said.
--Paul Hilts & Jim Milliot
Summer e-Book from Esquire
This being the year of the e-book, Esquire magazine has jumped on the bandwagon and is offering its annual summer reading issue as a free downloadable e-book for the Rocket eBook, Softbook, Palm OS and Windows CE devices. The issue will also feature a special guide to the best new books of the summer (e-books included), chosen by Adrienne Miller, Esquire's literary editor, and available only in the e-book edition.
The summer e-issue will also feature three nonfiction stories on the theme of man against nature by Sean Flynn (on a fatal warehouse fire in Massachusetts), Michael Paterniti (on the Swissair crash of 1998) and Bucky McMahon (on diving into the wreck of the Andrea Doria). Plus, there's a new war story by National Book Award winning novelist Tim O'Brien.
David Granger, editor-in-chief of Esquire, told PW that the idea to do an e-book came out of an Esquire brainstorming meeting. "It's cool," said Granger. "Our July issue has three long stories that we thought would work well as e-books and we saw it as a way to spread the word about Esquire." Granger said all the authors "loved the idea. They're excited that their work will get a broader audience." And he's likely to do it again, "when we have the right content for it. Who knows--we might even be able to charge for it next time."
The free offer is available until July 10. The Rocket eBook version is available through bn.com and Powells Books Online (www.powells.com). For Windows CE or Palm OS versions, go to www.peanutpress.com.
BookZone, Adobe In Pact
BookZone.com, a Web site design, Internet hosting and online publishing consultant, has joined with Adobe Systems to offer a new e-publishing service that will allow publishers to distribute their e-book titles to retailers or sell them directly from their own Web sites.
Mary Westheimer, CEO of BookZone, told PW the new service was developed in collaboration with Adobe Systems and will allow publishers to offer e-books in Adobe PDF format, readable by the Acrobat Reader software. The Acrobat Reader has long been available for free, and about 160 million copies have been downloaded, and about 40 million copies are designed to read downloadable e-books (Lightning Source To D -books, above). E-books in the PDF format are usually readable on laptop and desktop computers. The new service includes Acrobat's PDF Merchant software, which provides copyright security.
Westheimer told PW that BookZone's programmers worked to "streamline and adjust the Acrobat" software for its publishing clients and coupled BZ's payment and sales reporting functions to PDF Merchant. "We went with Acrobat because of its big installed base," she said, "and because publishers are familiar with the PDF format. It will be easier for them to use." She added that it will also allow publishers to "maintain control of their e-book inventory. They no longer have to turn over control of product sales to a retailer, and they can benefit from being in contact with their readers." BookZone's publisher clients range from very small houses with one or two titles to midsize firms with hundreds of titles, according to Westheimer.
Westheimer explained that BookZone will eventually "offer the other e-book formats"; she said the company is currently in talks with NuvoMedia to offer the Rocket eBook format.
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