Looking to turn its e-publishing expertise into a newbusiness, O'Reilly Media is launching O'Reilly Digital Distribution, a new divisionoffering publishers a complete e-book publishing service. Starting with textconversion, O'Reilly Digital Distribution can output files in any format forany device or e-reader and market and distribute the e-titles though anextensive and growing network of e-book retail channels.

In an interview conducted at O'Reilly's annual Tools ofChange conference in Manhattan, Laura Baldwin, chief operating officer of O'ReillyMedia, said the new service will offer free conversion as part of acomprehensive program that will secure and store a publisher's digital files andmarket and distribute them into 24 digital e-book retail channels (with 40 moreunder development) and in every format. ODD can turnout e-books for anyformat--from Kindle to iPhone to Stanza and Android readers like Aldiko. Publisherspay a fee of 25% of sales--no fees, she emphasized, until the e-books are in thesales channels. "We've automated the process of digital title conversion andproduction and for us this is all about sales and marketing," Baldwin said. "It'sabout getting e-books into the retail channels and there are more channelscoming online all the time."

Baldwin said the service grew out taking over thedistribution of Microsoft titles last year. "We won the bid because of oursophisticated digital infrastructure. It took us seven weeks to go live with 200Microsoft titles and make them available as e-books and apps." A longtime championof the e-book category, O'Reilly has seen its own e-book sales rise steadilyand the publisher has been aggressive in offering e-books in all formats aswell as bundling e-books with print. Andrew Savikas, O'Reilly's v-p of digitalinitiatives, has said that O'Reilly's Safari Books Online, a subscriptionservice that gives it client access to library of digital titles, is its secondlargest sales channel.

The new division will be directed by O'Reilly DigitalDistribution general manager Pascal Honscher and Baldwin said the company wouldbe hiring new workers as well as promoting from within.

Baldwin said they were marketing the service to allkinds of publishers, not just technical houses. "We're looking beyond technologybooks to poetry and fiction," and she said the services and pricing can becustomized to what a publisher needs. "If a publisher only needs conversion oronly wants marketing and distribution support, we'll work with them to come upwith a different price."

Baldwin compared the new service to the annual TOCconference: "The TOC is designed to help publishers and this service hasevolved out of that. We know technology is driving the publishing business now,but people shouldn't have to deal with technology issues. We want to take thetechnological confusion and ambiguity away and help publisher get their booksto readers."