Random House Expands its eBook Offerings

In my inbox this morning:

(New York, November 24, 2008)—Random House, Inc., the U.S. division of Random House, today announced its intention to make an additional 6,000-plus of its backlist titles available as e-books in the coming months, enhancing its status as the largest e-books trade publisher. Random House already has more than 8,200 newly published and backlist volumes that are currently downloadable as e-books. When this initiative is completed, almost 15,000 Random House, Inc. books will be published in electronic format.

The newly chosen fiction and nonfiction titles have been selected from the company’s children’s and all its adult divisions. Among the works being published this and next month in an electronic format for the first time are fiction by Terry Brooks, Italo Calvino, Harlan Coben, Philip K. Dick, Louis L’Amour, Philip Pullman, Ruth Rendell, and John Updike; HEALTHY AGING by Andrew Weil, and several classic MAGIC TREE HOUSE and JUNIE B. JONES children’s books by Mary Pope Osborne and Barbara Park respectively.

Random House will make each of its new e-titles available simultaneously to all our digital retailers and distributors in the months ahead. They will be downloadable to all reading devices and platforms that feature digital book content supported by our current and future accounts. For the first time, the company will be offering its entire current electronic catalogue, as well as future titles, in the e-Pub format, the emerging industry standard for e-books, thereby making the content more easily accessible for consumers from a larger number of potential partners.

This is great news. As more publishers embrace electronic books, and particularly open formats like ePub, the big winner is the reader. (Attentive readers will note we’ve started offering ePub ourselves with our short story downloads, and there is more to come). There doesn’t seem to be any explicit mention of this expansion on Random House’s website, nor do they seem to list ePub in their FAQ, but this is probably a temporary disconnect between a new program and the info on their existing website. The only other thing that doesn’t seem clear is just how much DRM they’re infecting their files with, if any—they do make mention of the fact that they’ve recently started selling non-DRMed audio books, but that’s about it. I guess I’ll be buying some books from the Random House site to find out.

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