Safari Books Online, a joint venture of O'Reilly Media and the Pearson Technology Group offering digital access to technical reference works, has launched a new service called Rough Cuts, which allows access to online texts well before the physical print editions are available.

The new service began in January, and Sean Devine, general manager at Safari Books Online, said it is registering "a good response."

The new Rough Cuts service, Devine said, is an effort to get "content to users earlier in the publishing cycle." Rough Cuts offers consumers three subscription options: accessing a digital copy of a text; reserving a print copy of the text; buying a digital and print copy bundled at a discount.

"Earlier is better in the tech community," said Devine. "Waiting out the editorial process, printing and shipping to the store takes time, and our users need info sooner." Devine described Rough Cuts as "user-oriented publishing." "Libraries used to follow the book industry," he said. "Now we're stepping out front. Now you might find a book in a library database before it's published. Some material may or may not ever end up as a book. Having access to 20 really important pages on the Web may be a lot better than buying the whole book."