Lightning, BookSite Offer E-book Retail Pilot
Calvin Reid -- 2/26/01

Lightning Source, Ingram's e-publishing and digital-fulfillment subsidiary, followed up its recent e-book alliance with Powell's Books by announcing an agreement with BookSite, a network of independent online book retailers, to launch a pilot program that will allow four indie bookstores to market and sell a full selection of e-books.

Dick Harte, president and founder of BookSite, told PW that he will discuss the results of the pilot program at a panel to be held at BookExpo America in June.

The four stores--BookPeople in Austin, Tex., Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass., McGraw-Hill Bookstore in New York City and Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops in Milwaukee--will begin offering e-book listings alongside the print editions in the BookSite database in the coming weeks. The program provides the pilot stores with all e-book titles in the Lightning Source database. The program will also focus on in-store efforts to educate consumers about e-books, explore cross-marketing efforts with print books, hold e-book demonstrations and author appearances and solicit consumer feedback on digital content. Initially all e-books will be offered in the MS Reader format.

Ed Marino, president and CEO of Lightning Source, pointed out that working with a network of indie booksellers "would lower the costs of this program for everyone. This is a tremendous enabling service that positions independent booksellers right up there with everyone else. Their expertise in local and regional markets opens new channels for consumer availability of e-books and provides publishers and authors with access to a loyal book-buying public."

Harte told PW that the pilot program will "bring e-books into established book channels. Consumers won't have to be techies, they can go get their e-books at the same place they go to get other books." Harte said that once it's launched, the program would likely offer other formats besides MS Reader. But, he emphasized, "We're focusing on consumers, not technology. We're looking to present e-books, to make stores better, to make e-books easier to order, easy to figure out. We want to look at marketing issues and get customers aware."

Lightning Source previously announced an agreement with to expand its selection of e-books. In addition to Rocket ebook titles, will now offer books in Adobe Acrobat, Glassbook Reader and MS Reader formats.