Publishers at The E-Book Starting Gate
Free viewing and searching maximizes content exposure, which is great advertising and thus maximizes revenues. Also, by allowing quick and easy sale of parts of documents, Ebrary allows publishers to capture revenues that might have otherwise been lost to readers using photocopy machines to capture a page or two of information from hard copy books.
Internet content distributor Fatbrain.com
Though the company has so far not focused on a single content area, Fatbrain.com does specialize in documents that are too long to be practical to print out but shorter than the printed book. Documents, which are sold as PDF files by Fatbrain, can be distributed as e-books or printed and shipped.
The first time (and only the first time) a Fatbrain document is opened, the computer contacts Fatbrain.com to verify the License Key entered by the user. If the License Key is valid, Fatbrain.com transmits a file that will unlock the document. Once the document is unlocked, the accompanying License Key will only work on the computer where it was first opened.
Allowing a buyer to purchase a file for any computer but locking it to a computer after purchase allows selling flexibility while protecting publishers' content.
Internet content distributor ibooks.com
Ibooks.com hosts professional reference books. Prospective buyers can search documents (stored in an enhanced version of HTML) for free; but when content is found, content that is not directly relevant is masked. Content is sold in units of one book at a time.
At this time, what a browser actually purchases is access to the book on the ibooks.com server; documents are not downloaded. Only one user of any authorized password can view a book at a time. The company is evaluating technologies that would enable protected downloads in the future.