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Palm Unit to Dispense E-Books from HarperCollins

Santa Clara, Calif.'s Palm Inc. Tuesday won the rights to repurpose publishing giant HarperCollins' "PerfectBound" line of e-books through Palm Digital Media, the e-book publishing unit it formed last March after it purchased peanutpress.com Inc.

As the e-book segment of New York-based HarperCollins, PerfectBound publishes titles by such estimable authors as Geoffrey A. Moore, largely recognized as a high-tech selling, investing and strategy guru. Moore, whose books have sold more than 675,000 copies, will have his "Crossing the Chasm," "Inside the Tornado" and "The Gorilla Game" titles offered by the Palm e-book unit.

Palm handheld owners may download and view digital books with Palm Reader, the company's e-book software. While HarperCollins is a mjaor U.S. player, Palm said it now offers more than 3,000 titles through similiar agreements with such publishing houses as Random House, Simon & Schuster, St. Martin's Press and Time Warner Trade Books.

"Through this relationship with Palm, PerfectBound eBooks are now available to the millions of Palm and Pocket PC users in a high-quality, user-friendly format," said David Steinberger, president of corporate strategy and international, for HarperCollins.

E-books were heavily hyped by handheld vendors and software makers such as Microsoft Corp. and Adobe Inc. in the past couple of years -- so much so that research firms such as Forrester Research Inc. placed revenues for the digital delivery of books at a stunning $7.8 billion, or 17.5 percent of publishing industry revenues, in five years.

But that was in December 2000 -- before the hammer fell on revenues, market, et al -- and now analysts have changed their tunes. Indeed, while its is true that millions of consumers use handheld devices that are readily equipped with e-book software, IDC said in May 2001 that worldwide sales for e-books will only hit 153,000 for 2001 and 1.7 million for 2004.

Aside from people less willing these days to pay for e-book downloads, the medium has been criticized for being hard on the eyes, according to readers. Simply, consumers have been largely inclined to stay loyal to their traditional wood pulp friends.

Other selections from the PerfectBound line to be offered by Pam Digital Media include: "Soul Mountain" by Gao Xingjian; "Coldheart Canyon" by Clive Barker; "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman; "Middle Age" by Joyce Carol Oates; "The Vendetta Defense" by Lisa Scottoline; "Reading the Bible Again for the First Time" by Marcus J. Borg; "Sharpe's Trafalger" by Bernard Cromwell; "The Essential Drucker" by Peter F. Drucker; "To Cut A Long Story Short" by Jeffrey Archer; "The Family" by Mario Puzo; "Financial Security in Troubled Times" by Ric Edelmanj and "Hope To Die" by Lawrence Block.