Publishers at The E-Book Starting Gate
NetLibrary's set-up illustrates that even digital files like e-books can be "lent" by libraries.
E-book distributor and NetLibrary subsidiary Peanut Press
At www.peanutpress.com, Peanut Press offers consumer trade books, including many science fiction titles, in a file format readable by Peanut Reader software running on a Palm Pilot and a few other select hand-held devices.
Peanut Press encrypts books using a process that incorporates the customer's name and credit card number. Every time the purchaser opens the file, even after purchase, the software asks for the name and credit card number.
Because consumers are unlikely to give away their credit card number, book sharing is unlikely.
Digital rights management clearinghouse/back office services provider Reciprocal
Reciprocal handles the intricacies of rights tracking and enforcement for publishers. Functions include transaction processing, which can extend to subscription and license management; customer service management including dispute resolution (for example, what happens when the buyer's computer crashes and he loses the book he bought); and royalty payment reporting. Reciprocal relies on its own Digital Clearing Services software. Publishers setting up a relationship with Reciprocal can also implement DRM technologies from companies that Reciprocal has partnerships with, including Adobe, Intertrust, Microsoft, Preview Systems, and Xerox.
Arrrangements vary, but typically encrypted content files are widely distributed, while sale of digital "keys," which can contain various access permissions, is controlled.
Controlling the sale and distribution of a "key" instead of the books themselves yields efficiency and flexibiility: 1. The digital "key" files are small and easy to download. 2. Encrypted content files can be widely distributed, for example as files e-mailed from friend to friend or on CDs or other portable media. 3. The "key" format facilitates storage, recall and reuse of customer data such as contact info, hardware specs and permissions packages.