Web Site Has a Read on Digital Book Sales
By Alex Pham - Los Angeles Times
Scribd is proposing to do for books what iTunes did for music — let readers buy only what they want to read.
Eight years ago, Apple turned the music industry upside-down when it launched iTunes, an online music store that let listeners cherry-pick one or two songs instead of having to buy an entire album.
Now Scribd is giving readers the option of buying content, including paying a few dollars for a chapter or two from a travel guide or a how-to book.
That's just one example of the flexibility that digital book purveyors are experimenting with as printed content migrates to the digital format. Another is the pricing model.
Paperbacks largely have been priced about $10 to $15, while hardcovers are $25 to $30. With digital books, that price could be any amount.
Scribd takes 20 percent of whatever price publishers and authors set for their works; the rest goes to the writer or publisher. Some authors, for example, are releasing their books on Scribd for $2.
One of them is Kemble Scott, a 46-year-old San Francisco writer whose first book, "SoMa," was published as a trade paperback in 2007. For his second book, "The Sower," Scott eschewed print and decided to debut his novel on Scribd as a $2 digital book.
Scott chose the digital route for its immediacy. His thriller includes a number of contemporary references such as swine flu and Susan Boyle, a Scottish singer who rose to media stardom on the wings of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
"Publishing a book the traditional way can take a year to 18 months from the time you find a publisher to the time it ends up on store shelves," Scott said.