In a release originally set for announcement today that hit the wires last night after Business Week violated the embargo, Simon & Schuster is offering almost 5,000 of their titles available for sale on Scribd.com through a branded “storefront” on the site, including books from some of their bestselling authors. They books are priced at 20 percent below print retail, and the site provides the publisher with 80 percent of the revenue. S&S is also providing free previews with links to purchase print books from the publisher’s website.
Scribd’s files are viewable online but download only as protected PDF files that the WSJ says are not currently viewable on Kindle, but will be viewable on the iPhone OS after a software update from Scribd.
A Scribd spokesperson declined to provide information on sales so far of books in general following the launch of their beta store a few weeks ago. But Kathleen Miller indirectly acknowledged our assessment based on the site’s own displayed “views” that sales of books have been modest at best. She told us “it’s been our experience (with “pre-commerce” documents) that it often takes a while for things to take off.” Miller added that “‘views isn’t a good snapshot right now. We’ve experienced a glitch that undercounts views by up to 50%. We are in the process of fixing it.”
S&S chief digital officer Ellie Hirschhorn says in the announcement “we’re pleased to offer them this convenient, user-friendly option for discovering, sampling, and purchasing Simon & Schuster books, any time and anywhere.” Scribd uses the release to remind publishers of their “Copyright Management System,” said to “help prevent the upload of unauthorized written works” by comparing them to legitimate files already provided to the site. Indeed, Hirschhorn tells the AP “It’s a way for them, in terms of technology, to match our files against any have been uploaded, to identify those uploaded files and then tell whether they’re legitimate. If you’re not in their program, the entire onus falls to the publisher, or to the author, or to the agent, for finding a pirated book. And now it’s a shared responsibility.”
But Carolyn Pittis at HarperCollins says of that system, “Theoretically, it sounds great that technology can, in real time, alert Scribd about a pirated copy and prevent someone from actually uploading it. But I don’t know how sophisticated that system is and whether it can work on a large scale.”
S&S Scribd store