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E-Book Publishing Gets a Boost

Barnes & Noble.com, which only last August opened an online bookstore that implements the Microsoft Reader technology, said today it will launch Barnes & Noble Digital, an electronic publishing imprint.

The move will take the bookseller into a new role as book publisher by creating a direct link between authors and their readers, the company said.

The new imprint will give authors a greater share of the income from their works (royalties of 35 percent )and lower retail prices in an effort to build the emerging market of e-books, Barnes & Noble said. Most electronic books in the program will be priced from $5.95 to $7.95, and in all instances will be less expensive than the corresponding print editions.

Barnes & Noble Digital will provide authors with editorial support and online sales monitoring, as well as exposure on the Barnes & Noble.com site. The first selection for publication is "The Book of Counted Sorrows," by Dean Koontz.

Barnes & Noble Digital will also make its publications available to all eBook retailers, as well as marketing to the Barnes & Noble.com Affiliate Network of more than 400,000 members. The first selections of e-book titles will be offered for sale this spring.

A 35 percent royalty of the retail sale price of an author's work sold directly through the Barnes & Noble eBook store or its Affiliate Network will be paid, and 50 percent of the net revenues received by the company from sales through third parties will be paid.

Literary agents will have password-protected access to an area of the Web site where they will find current updates on the sales of their clients' e-books. e-books will be made available in all major existing formats and new platforms as they are developed.

"We believe that the formation of this division represents a significant leap forward for electronic publishing," said Michael Fragnito, vice president of the Digital Book Group at Barnes & Noble.com, who also assumes the title of publisher of the new imprint.

"We are in a unique position to make the most direct connection between writers and readers, and will eventually broaden that reach to include the Barnes & Noble book stores, as well as support new technologies as they are developed."