Amazon.com Offers Pay-Per-Page Viewing Of Books Online

November 15, 2005
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November 15-30, 2005 Edition

Amazon.com Offers

Pay-Per-Page Viewing

Of Books Online

NEW YORK, NY/11/04/05—Amazon.com has announced that it will let book buyers download or view books by the page at a small fee, and will let publishers or copyright holders decide whether users can access, download and/or print the pages.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the cost for viewing most books would be a few cents per page. Reference works, however, will go for a higher price. Also, anyone purchasing a physical book would then be able to access the entire text on the Internet for a small added charge. A $23 book, for example, might be accessed online by the book’s owner for as little as $1.99.

The Authors Guild, and several major publishers including Holtzbrinck Publishers, which owns Farrar, Straus & Giroux, St. Martin’s Press and others, have indicated they will support the program.

Bezos described the new program as a win-win-win situation which will be good for authors, publishers and readers. Amazon already lets viewers search inside some books, and also offers Amazon Shorts, which offers brief, original fiction and nonfiction for 49 cents each.

The search-engine giant, Google, announced the same day that it would offer the entire contents of books and government documents, except for those tied up in copyright battles over the company’s scanning and indexing of materials in major libraries

Google faces a law suit from The Authors Guild and five major publishers who seek to prevent Google from scanning copyrighted material in libraries without specific permission. Google maintains that it has the right to scan the books under “fair use” laws.

The Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken has been quoted in the press as saying “The Amazon programs are the way copyright is supposed to work. You provide access to readers and some compensation flows back to rights holders.”

Amazon will be the first to sell books on a per-page basis from Random House, Inc., the nation’s largest trade publisher. The publisher has said in a statement that it will work with online booksellers, search engines, and other portals to offer book contents to consumers on the basis of online pay-per-page-view. The publisher will allow full indexing and display of works, but will not allow materials to be downloaded, printed or copied, according to its president, Richard Sarnoff. Sarnoff has indicated that Random House is worried about pricing, and said it will work to uphold the value of digital text online.

 

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