Creating an Electronic Bestseller
A publisher turned to an online e-book purchase and delivery service to convert a traditionally printed bestseller into an electronic product
by Tatyana Sinioukov
It's no secret that more and more publishers turn to the Internet to market their printed books. Few take it to another level by offering a book in a different shape and form--electronically. In the case of Washington, DC-based Regnery Publishing, a division of Eagle Publishing, two of its bestsellers, The Millennium Bug by Michael S. Hyatt, a #7 bestseller in 1998 on the New York Times business list, and The Year of the Rat by Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett II, #17 on the Times non-fiction list in February 1999, had already existed in printed form. With the help of The 1stBooks Library (www.1stbooks.com), Bloomington, IN, an online e-book purchase and distribution service, Regnery has converted these two books to electronic format and started selling them online through the The 1stBooks Library.
According to Dan Snow, director of communications and planning at The 1stBooks Library, his company got in touch with Regnery when they noticed how quickly The Year of the Rat was flying out of bookstores during the past holiday season. Figuring that being out of stock--with demand only increasing--didn't make the publisher happy, says Snow, his company offered to turn the title into a downloadable electronic product and distribute it online. Snow recalls that Regnery then asked what the process would involve. "We said, 'Just send us the disk.'"
"The files were beautiful," reports Snow, referring to the PDF files Regnery created while typesetting the printed original and later had sent to 1stBooks for digital distribution.
"We think that it affords us a new market," comments Al Regnery, president of Regnery Publishing, on his decision to get involved in this project. "We are convinced that it won't cut into our traditional market, the bookstores." The online version of The Year of the Rat, he says, should spark some interest overseas, since this is the book "about the People's Republic of China and the involvement of the (U.S.) administration with transferring technology to China in return for campaign money," the book the Chinese government would not allow into the country but can't prevent people from downloading from their home computers.