Time Warner Launches E-Book Venture

BOSTON (05/23/2000) - Time Warner Trade Publishing will kick off an online publishing venture in the first quarter of next year, with the intent of attracting readers, authors and editors interested in fiction and nonfiction written specifically for the Internet.

The venture, dubbed iPublish.com at Time Warner Books, could provide a big boost for the nascent electronic-book market. The e-book market has been greatly ballyhooed, but slow to take off, because there aren't many titles available electronically, display devices have been expensive, and because electronically generated type has been harder to read than hard-copy print material. Time Warner Inc. is the parent company of both the trade publishing and books divisions, and is in the process of merging with America Online Inc.

(AOL) in a deal expected to be final by year's end.

Some AOL brands will become iPublish.com distribution partners, and the new venture also has promotional deals with Gemstar Communications Inc., a wireless data service provider in Oakville, Ontario. Microsoft Corp. Reader with ClearType display technology will be the reading format for the iRead channel of iPublish -- a big win for Microsoft, which has been a key advocate and provider of technology for e-books.

Time Warner Trade Publishing officials made the announcement at a press conference today, and also outlined the news in a written statement timed to coincide with an eBook Pocket PC event. Microsoft also announced it has entered into pacts with Simon & Schuster and Barnes & Noble Inc. to obtain titles for Microsoft's Reader for eBook application, which runs on Pocket PC devices.

On its part,Time Warner contends that iPublish will be the first Internet specific publishing venture started by a U.S. book publisher. The new venture will be led by Gregory Voynow, who is vice president and director of online marketing and development for Time Warner Trade Publishing. He will become the senior vice president and general manager of iPublish.com. Claire Zion, executive editor at Warner Books, will be editorial director of iPublish.com.

The online publishing house will have three online channels: iRead will display published works and act as a distribution point for online book outlets; iWrite will be the vehicle through which reader-members submit new works, and iLearn will be a forum for authors and those with writing expertise to share their know how with site users.

Time Warner, in New York, can be reached at +1-212-484-8000 or http://www.timewarner.com/. Gemstar, in Oakville, can be reached at +1-905-847-3832 or http://www.gemstar.ca/. Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or http://www.microsoft.com/.

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