Publisher Rowman & Littlefield has launched a direct-to-consumer e-commerce operation selling ebooks on its website, following in the footsteps of few other publishers like Macmillan and F+W Media (which owns and operates Digital Book World).
Selling books directly to consumers is an often discussed and seldom executed move within the industry. Publishing observers worried about the dominance of online retailer Amazon call for publishers to set up their own direct sales operations, which could theoretically lessen reliance on third-party retailers like Amazon and others. Publishers may be hesitant to do so because of the complexity of setting up such an operation and worries about angering the retailers by disintermediating them — foregoing the normal business-to-business relationship between publisher and retailer and going directly to the consumer.
Macmillan made headlines last year when it began selling a limited number of its books through its Tor.com science-fiction and fantasy website and F+W Media has long sold books directly to consumers through a suite of verticalized stores that sell books, ebooks and other products, many of them produced by third parties. Unlike both Macmillan and F+W stores, Rowman & Littlefield’s ebook store will sell books with digital rights management software, which makes it more difficult for users to copy and share the ebooks.
Per an announcement today in advance of next week’s Book Expo America event (below), Rowman & Littlefield said that its ebooks would still be available elsewhere through its distributors. At launch, 12,000 ebooks will be available.
Rowman & Littlefield opens its E-book Store
Friday, May 24, 2013 – (Lanham, MD) – Rowman & Littlefield is pleased to announce that on the eve of Book Expo America, its e-book store is now open. The retail platform is fully integrated with the company website, which now gives individual consumers, all types of libraries and other businesses the ability to purchase and download e-books from the publishing company’s extensive list of titles.
At launch, around 12,000 e-books are available through the new platform which has been developed specifically for Rowman & Littlefield. It is closely connected with the publisher’s Unity platform for title development, which houses full title metadata and all the digital assets associated with each new book. This close integration means that the e-book version of each new title is available for purchase from the moment of publication.
Commenting on the launch, CEO Jed Lyons said: “Technology has become a real strength of Rowman & Littlefield, with robust bespoke systems supporting all of the processes that connect our authors with our readers. We know that our academic, library, professional and trade customers all value the ability to access our titles in every format, and this new platform gives us the capability to deliver books instantly to a range of devices including PCs, MACs, IOS and Android. The system uses Adobe Content Server to enable secure Digital Rights Management. ”
Rowman & Littlefield expects the platform to be used by individual readers wanting instant access to its list, and is also enabling libraries to use the platform within their institutional context. In time, the company also expects its distribution subsidiaries, NBN and NBN International, to be able to offer the platform to their client publishers.
Rowman & Littlefield’s e-books are also available through a wide range of distributors.
About Rowman & Littlefield
The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. is one of the largest and fastest-growing independent publishers and distributors in North America.
The company publishes in virtually all fields in the humanities and social sciences and enjoys co-publishing partnerships with many influential academic and research organizations, including the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, American Council on Education, American Association for State and Local History, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. While celebrating our 38th anniversary in 2013, we will publish over 1,400 new academic, reference, and general interest books and 11 journals.
We also own National Book Network (NBN), one of North America’s largest distributors of independent trade book publishers and NBN International, a leading distributor of independent publishers in the United Kingdom.
The company has locations in Lanham, Maryland (headquarters); Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania (distribution center); New York City; Toronto; Boulder, Colorado; and London and Plymouth, United Kingdom.