The Simon & Schuster storefront on the online Scribd Store offers best-selling books from horror master Stephen King, as well as from other authors, such as Dan Brown, Mary Higgins Clark, Chelsea Handler, Jodi Picoult and Lauren Weisberger.
A total of about 5,000 e-books are available at launch, with more to follow. Simon & Schuster plans to offer a 20% discount from the print list price on e-books sold through Scribd, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Books from Scribd can be read on the site or through the Scribd-supplied reader for the PC. The company promises to launch a reader application for Apple's iPhone soon.
The Simon & Schuster deal is the latest move by Scribd to work with publishers in selling books to the more than 12 million people who head to the site each month, as measured by Quantcast. In March, the site announced a deal to make promotional chapters and some books available for free from several publishers, including Simon & Schuster, Random House, Workman Publishing, Berrett-Koehler, Thomas Nelson and Manning Publications.
In entering the book-selling business, Scribd is going up against Amazon, which has boosted e-book sales through its popular Kindle reader, a thin, lightweight device that people can use to download novels and periodicals and take them on the road.
Rather than sell its own reader, Scribd is taking a more open approach by making its software available to as many hardware makers as possible. Besides Apple, Scribd said it is "talking with other device makers about making it easy for you to access your Scribd books directly on their gadgets."
Another major difference between the sites is how they price e-books. Amazon, which has far more clout with publishers as a major retailer, is offering many novels for $10 a piece. Scribd is letting the publishers set their own prices, giving them more pricing flexibility.
E-books are the fastest-growing category in the book industry, so publishers are eager to try various business models on the Web. Nevertheless, e-book sales are small compared to print sales, totaling $100 million last year, according to some estimates.
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