Lightning Source has signed two separate agreements that will strengthen its presence in the print-on-demand and e-book markets.

In the POD deal, Matthews Medical Books, a distributor of health science books to bookstores and libraries, signed an agreement with Lightning under which Matthews will distribute relevant health science titles from Lightning's database to its customers.

Linda Nash, senior v-p of Matthews, said there is "a definite need" in the health market for print-on-demand services. "So many titles are specialized and have short print runs that it can take a long time to get a book back in print," she noted.

Although Lightning currently carries only a few hundred titles that are of interest to Matthews's customers, the company is in the process of adding more titles from medical, nursing, allied health and veterinary publishers. A Lightning Source spokesperson said the science, technical and medical market is a "growing sector" for the company. Nash said Matthews was receiving orders when it was testing the service with Lightning and that orders increased once the service went live.

On the e-book side, the company has reached an agreement with Palm Digital Media to make Palm format e-book titles available to a larger number of online retailers through Lightning's international distribution channels. After several years of offering its 5,000 e-book titles (which can be read on handheld Palm devices) solely through its own Web e-book store, Palm recently began offering its titles through other e-wholesalers (E-publishing, May 27).

Mike Segroves, Palm's director of business development, said the agreement "confirms the growing interest in e-books." Palm format e-books should be available through Lightning's distribution channels by midsummer.