Simon & Schuster has become the first major publisher to sell its titles through the online document-sharing service Scribd. Under the terms of a partnership announced on Friday, nearly five thousand e-books from the Simon & Schuster catalogue are being made available for purchase on the site, along with digital previews of thousands more.
Scribd, a San Francisco-based start-up, says sixty million people use its service to read, upload, and share documents each month. In May, the company expanded its database of free content to include for-purchase works with the launch of Scribd Store—now the site of Simon & Schuster’s new electronic storefront. Unlike Amazon’s Kindle service, Scribd permits sellers to set their own prices and allows them to be adjusted in accordance with sales data. E-books from Simon & Schuster will initially sell at 20 percent below the list price of current print editions.
“It means new revenue on the sales side and lets us experiment with various pricing models,” Ellie Hirschhorn, Simon & Schuster’s chief digital officer, told the Wall Street Journal. “They [Scribd] have a large audience, which is important to us, and they’ve made an effort to install anti-piracy measures.”
Scribd has been the target of piracy complaints in the past, with publishers claiming the service doesn’t do enough to keep users from sharing proprietary material. The Scribd Store lets content owners specify whether files may be downloaded, read exclusively online, or downloaded only along with so-called “digital rights management” technology. Titles from Simon & Schuster will include Adobe anti-piracy software, which means the books will be transferrable to devices like the Sony Reader but will be incompatible with the Kindle. Scribd also says work is underway on a reading application for Apple’s iPhone.
Along with bestsellers by authors such as Stephen King and Jodi Picoult, Simon & Schuster’s e-book offerings on Scribd include Pulitzer Prize-winning titles from Frank McCourt, Ernest Hemingway, and Margaret Mitchell. The Associated Press reports that Hachette Book Group and HarperCollins are considering similar partnerships with the site.