Major Book Publishers Unveil Their E-Book Offerings
By Donna Loyle
Some of the country's largest book publishing companies recently unveiled major new electronic-book initiatives, bringing renewed energy into the e-book arena.
Time Warner's iPublish.com at Time Warner Books, New York City, scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2001, will offer fiction and non-fiction content created specifically for the Internet, according to company officials.
Meanwhile, Random House and Simon & Schuster, along with Microsoft, gave away copies of Michael Crichton's new novel Timeline, as well as some "Star Trek" series novels, all downloadable onto Microsoft's new e-book Reader software.
In June, CBS News and Simon & Schuster, both owned by Viacom, co-published an exclusive e-book based on the news organization's four-year project Class of 2000: A Definitive Survey of the New Generation. The release was in conjunction with a special edition of TV show "48 Hours: The Class of 2000" on CBS. The project was developed by CBS News as a way of presenting a portrait of America's problems and promise as seen through the eyes of high school students who graduated in 2000. The text ran about 35,000 words, which would have filled 125 traditional paper-and-ink pages.
Houghton Mifflin, New York City, announced in June plans to offer college course materials on the Internet. Using the electronic Publishing Clearing Service DRM solution, the publisher of educational textbooks and materials will post content in digital modules for college students nationwide, according to company reports.
Indeed, the e-book arena continues to heat up. In fact, e-book sales are expected to climb to $2.3 billion, or 10 percent of the overall book market, by 2005, according to a recent study done by Andersen Consulting.
Open E-Book Forum
The news came on the heels of meetings among technology professionals who are building the infrastructure for secure and efficient distribution of e-books. The Book Industry Study Group (www.bisg.org) and the Open E-Book Forum (OEBF), at their meetings held in May in New York City, outlined the challenges faced by p-book (that is, print book) publishers looking to tackle the e-book market. At the meetings, which were literally jam-packed with industry professionals, challenges such as guarding content from copyright infringement and determining appropriate e-commerce business models were heartily discussed.