Digital music and video distributor MediaNet announced plans to expand its digital content offerings with the launch of an e-book catalog and distribution service for as many as 200,000 digital book titles from a range of major publishers. The new service will initially offer titles in Adobe ePub and PDF format with plans to add additional formats.

The MediaNet Open E-book solution offers an automated enterprise content delivery system that will allow retailers to quickly set up an e-bookstore under their own brand to deliver downloads of popular titles. The MN e-book platform will give retailers an e-book catalog with bestselling popular titles and an interface offering full browsing capability and purchasing options for consumers as well as the ability to closely monitor real-time sales activity.

MediaNet CEO Alan McGlade said his company will launch initially with Adobe ePub titles, "but we'll add formats as required and continue to grow the catalog." MediaNet is a nine year-old company specializing in digital downloads of music and video and McGlade said it was time to enter the digital book business. "MediaNet currently powers music metadata, streams and downloads for over 100 digital retailers and online entertainment destinations," he said. "The integration of e-books comes at the right time for this burgeoning industry and is a natural extension of MediaNet's digital music."

McGlade said that MediaNet has "hundreds" of accounts in the U.S. and Canada in addition to a presence in Europe, including the U.K. retailer Tesco. McGlade also said that "most" of the e-titles that will be offered through MediaNet will have Digital Rights Management software—controversial security software that prevents content from being copied or transferred beyond the initial purchaser. DRM is often criticized by consumers because it can prevent lawful content owners from sharing their content or from transferring their music or e-book titles to the different devices they may own.

Nevertheless, most book publishers and many authors continue to demand DRM on their e-books. "DRM adds a level of complexity and difficulty to the user experience," McGlade said. " The music business went through all of this before deciding to give up on DRM. The book space will evolve as well but we're going to follow the rules and try to make the user experience right and smooth."