NEW YORK Barnes & Noble.com yesterday became the first major retailer to start its own electronic publishing division, offering an original work from suspense writer Dean Koontz among its first titles.
Barnes & Noble already publishes many books in paper form and is a major investor in the electronic market. Last September, it purchased the digital provider Fatbrain.com and it also owns a portion of the online vanity press iUniverse.com.
But the creation of Barnes & Noble Digital marks its most ambitious move yet. The new e-book division is expected to focus on established writers such as Koontz, out-of-print books and "classics" in the public domain. The price will likely vary between $5.95 and $7.95.
Analysts called the move a credible challenge to print publishers.
"For a couple of years people have been warning traditional publishers they be could cut out of the e-book process," said Karen Jenkins Holt, managing editor of the newsletter Book Publishing Report. "But it didnt seem a strong threat because most self-publishers dont have the marketing clout or editorial expertise. Barnes & Noble.com is in that position."
Michael Fragnito, publisher of Barnes & Noble Digital, said traditional publishers shouldnt feel threatened by the new imprint, however, but should simply take better care of their authors.
"I hope publishers realize that e-books are a real market and we are in a unique position to help writers reach readers," Fragnito said. "They should pay authors a fair price."
Â On the Web:
[back to top]