Dial-A-Book, the company that provides first chapters from books for use on Web sites, will now be offering its services to independent booksellers.
Although Web sites offer a plethora of reviews, comments from readers and all kinds of other information about books, the opportunity to browse through the content of titles is one of the few things they haven't been able to provide consumers. DAB's Chapter One program will change this by allowing customers to sample at least the beginning of the books they might want to buy.
The files will be made available to indies via Ingram, Baker &Taylor, the National Association of College Stores and Muze, who will act as sales agents between DAB and booksellers. The four organizations will not handle the files. DAB will also supply the library market through Ingram and Baker &Taylor.
This month or next, DAB is beginning a German-language Chapter One program that will be available through Libri and Koch, Neff and tinger, the two largest German wholesalers. DAB is represented in Germany by Krieger, Zander and Partner in Munich. The company also plans to start Chapter One programs in Spanish, French and Dutch.
Headed by president Stanley Greenfield, DAB has been providing Chapter One files to sites run by Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, C-Span and Book-of-the-Month Club, among others.
DAB obtains permissions from publishers or authors or whomever holds copyright, converts the text into HTML and prepares the files for mounting on particular sites. The files contain cover images; clients obtain the files either from an exclusive URL on Dial-A-Book's server or the company sends them via FTP (file transfer protocol).
DAB has a "backlist" of more than 2000 first chapters and now plans to offer 5000 first chapters a year, based on the books reviewed annually in Publishers Weekly as well as titles not reviewed by PW that are requested by clients. The company receives permissions for almost all of the books whose first chapters it wants to run.
DAB was developed in 1993 by Greenfield at Ziff-Davis, where he worked for years; at the time, he was vice-president and internal consultant. Originally, DAB was devised to offer full-length books for downloading electronically, but the idea was ahead of its time.
Appropriately for an Internet company, DAB has 4.5 employees who telecommute. Greenfield's own terminal is in New York City. For more information, call Dial-A-Book at (718) 432-0014; fax (718) 432-0251; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.