Enters DIY Publishing

SAN FRANCISCO (06/30/2000) - In a move aimed at frustrated novelists the world over, has teamed up with iUniverse, a print-on-demand Web publisher in which Barnes & Noble Inc. owns a 49 percent stake, to launch the Publish Your Book digital self-publishing program.

Publish Your Book is almost identical to the program already offered by iUniverse. Both sites enable anyone to get a manuscript published for as little as US$99 and also offer their services free to published authors who want to republish an out-of-print title. Other sites, such as Xlibris, offer unpublished authors a shot at stardom for free.

Some doubt that vanity publishing on the Web will ever be a big business, but Vice Chairman Steve Riggio says Publish Your Book will enable the company to publish good books that have so far been snubbed.

"Traditional publishers and editors have basically taken a very negative approach to this, believing a company like iUniverse is largely bringing works to the marketplace that are not worthy of being published by a traditional publishing house," Riggio says. "And that's really myopic, shortsighted and dumb."

Riggio acknowledges that some of the titles might interest only a handful of people - say, the author's friends and family. But digital publishing lowers the costs to a fraction of those of traditional publishers; therefore, digital publishers are content to sell even a few hundred copies. Once a manuscript is submitted, iUniverse designs a cover and assembles the book; a copy is printed only after an order is placed.

Riggio, for one, is convinced that digital publishing will be a formidable presence in the book business. "Once iUniverse's catalogue includes tens of thousands of titles," he says, "it is clearly obvious that many of them will become standard titles on bookstore shelves."

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