S&S Staging Lit. Benefit
Paul Hilts -- 12/20/99

Simon & Schuster has launched a unique charity benefit, and at the same time is testing the strength of the electronic publishing market.

From December 15 to February 15, 2000, S&S will put chapters from six authors' works online with the help of the digital rights management company Reciprocal at Using a standard credit card, readers can make a donation of $1, $5 or $10 to Literacy Partners, a New York- based nonprofit organization promoting adult literacy, and then download one of the works. This marks the first time a major publishing house has made available online forthcoming fiction and nonfiction from noted authors for charity. Included are Stephen Ambrose's Nothing Like It in the World, Jackie Collins's Lethal Seduction and the re-release of the children's classic Eloise in Moscow by the late Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight, along with previously unpublished works from Mary Higgins Clark, Stephen King and David McCullough.

Carolyn Reidy, president of Simon & Schuster's trade division, told PW, "Until now, we have been reluctant to put our authors' content online because of the danger of piracy and copyright infringement. We are taking part now because we feel Reciprocal can protect our copyrights; at the same time, we'll be able to tell each author how much their text earned to promote literacy."

Reciprocal built the Web site and coordinated the efforts of Xerox Corp. and Adobe Systems to convert the authors' texts to Adobe Portable Document Files (PDFs), to ensure secure downloads and use and to track payments.