E-books Get a Seybold Spotlight
by Rose Blessing
Seybold Seminars, held in February in Boston, included an e-books pavilion on its trade show floor. In addition, it designated three companies in the e-book field as "Hot Picks:"
Glassbook. Glassbook's Reader software facilitates buying and reading of electronic books on a laptop or desktop PC. Users can download it for free.
The Glassbook Content Server software (now in beta test, available to publishers for $900 plus a per-book-sold fee) is a Web-based system that automates the e-book supply chain for publishers, distributors and booksellers. Functions include e-book preparation, entry and fulfillment of orders from online bookstores; management and protection of digital rights; and a secure repository with encryption of e-books and authentication of transactions.
Glassbook used the Seybold event to announce teaming agreements with Adobe that will increase its consumer visibility
--Adobe Acrobat Reader software will incorporate the Glassbook Reader.
--Adobe PDF Merchant and Web Buy digital rights tools will be included in Glassbook's Content Server software.
--Adobe is working with the EBX working group to add some of the digital rights management features of PDF Merchant to the EBX standard. Glassbook is a champion of the EBX standard.
Glassbook notes that its reader software uses Adobe PDF as "the preferred content format," but through its support of the EBX Electronic Book Exchange Specification, which supports both PDF and Open eBook standards, it also supports books in OEB format.
Ebrary.com and Ibooks.com. Entrants into the electronic content distribution field Ebrary.com and Ibooks.com used Seybold to introduce themselves to the market.
Ibooks.com serves the professional reference market, and allows users--for example, an information technology programmer looking for information on a topic such as Java-- to do full-text searching across the Ibooks.com site. Ibooks.com accepts content from publishers in many formats, but ultimately stores the content in HTML format so it can be easily distributed to multiple types of PDAs, laptops and other emerging Internet appliances.
Once the browser completes a search, a preview technology called iView obscures some information around the material once it is found. To see everything, users must buy the book.
Ibooks.com, which in general hopes to emulate the bookstore concept, sells one book at a time and the buyer owns the book. The service was launched in late February.
Ebrary.com offers non-fiction and reference books in digital form only. Site browsers can conduct full-text searches, including use of reference functions such as word and map look-ups, encyclopedia entries and translations to and from other languages. Documents can be displayed in full by users in PDF or HTML format; other reader formats are also supported.
To purchase, a browser must become a member, which allows creation of a debit account called a "wallet" that can be used for purchases. Purchases over $5 can also be made by credit card.
Publishers are encouraged to provide books to Ebrary.com in PDF format, but Ebrary.com can handle conversions if needed. For the first publishers that sign up, Ebrary.com offers revenue sharing 80/20 in favor of the publisher.
Sales of portions of documents are a notable Ebrary.com feature; the company plans to provide royalty cost breakdowns to publishers to facilitate such sales.
Ebrary notes that selling portions of documents "gives the photocopy market back" to the publishers and yields valuable information about how information is being used. Ebrary.com expects to launch in summer.