Amazon has quickly emerged as the leader in the nascent eBook market, but a company launching today has the potential to change all that.

Amazon has the upper hand versus Sony's Reader because of its prolific backlog of content. Most important to their foothold is the way that they control content. Books purchased in the Amazon store are only viewable on the Kindle and the Kindle iPhone app. But if a company can undercut Amazon's prices and get access to the same quality content, they could unseat Amazon.

And Scribd, a new company opening beta testing of its e-commerce platform today is hoping to do just that. The company gives up to 80% of revenue to publishers and allows free uploading and sharing. Authors can also upload their content in unprotected PDFs that make them legible on the Kindle or Sony Reader.

Undercutting Amazon's prices and allowing content creators to keep more revenue is an attractive way for Scribd to make a name for itself in the eBook space.

Their problem so far is one of plagiarism and copyright violations. Content is often uploaded to Scribd without permission from publishers. The company has promised to filter out any illegal copies of a publisher's copyrighted content if they partner with the site, but publishers may not take lightly to being forced into a contract with the company to protect their works on the service. Independent publishers Lonely Planet, O’Reilly Media, and Berrett-Koehler are uploading their content, but so far no major publishers have signed on.

Tammy Nam, Scribd's VP-content and marketing told Paid Content this morning that "We think it's going to be a lot like eBay in a lot of ways, where you'll have a mix of amateur and professional content sellers. But in particular, as a site with 60 million monthly readers, we believe there is a huge long tail of non-professional content."

Scribd already has a name as the YouTube for documents, but without high end content, the company could end up in the sme predicament as the video giant. YouTube may have the largest amount of video online, but its Hulu's professional content that brings in large revenues right now. 

Without content from large publishers, Scribd won't bring in the big dollars in the eBook market, but the company's existence gives hope (and an alternative outlet) to publishers, authors and readers who might worry that Amazon's status as market leader in the eBook market could become a monopoly.

Image: Scribd

Meghan Keane

Published 18 May, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (1)


Steve Weber

Scribd has a huge chance of getting this right, because they're not trying to lock people into a proprietary reader/format like Amazon is. They're also a heckuva lot more attractive to self publishers, since they're paying 80 percent, instead of the measly 30 percent Amazon pays for Kindle content through DTP.

Scribd also has a huge volume of pageviews. They're tied in with Google and have Adsense integrated in their reader. If they start selling, the big publishers will be there very quickly.

over 9 years ago

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