Simon & Schuster will announce today that it's struck a deal with Scribd.com to make around 5000 digital titles available for sale on the site, a move that sends a clear "screw you" message to Amazon and their little Kindle.
Unlike Amazon, which sets the retail price for its e-books and sells them in its own proprietary Kindle format, Scribd is offering publishers considerably more control over how their digital titles are sold.
Simon & Schuster will sell its books on Scribd for 20 percent off the list price of the most recent print edition. Amazon sets a price of $9.99 for many popular e-books, meaning titles there might be less expensive. But Scribd will allow publishers to see what is selling and change their prices accordingly.
Scribd also gives publishers 80 percent of revenue. Amazon reportedly gives publishers about half of the list price of books sold for the Kindle, but also discounts many titles and in some cases chooses to make no revenue itself from those sales.
Simon & Schuster will sell its books with anticopying software from Adobe, which means those books can be transferred to devices like the Sony Reader and some mobile phones, but not to Amazon's Kindle.
Since it's already abundantly clear that Kindle is a false prophet for newspapers, would it be safe to assume that if more disgruntled-with-Amazon publishers were to follow suit and partner with Scribd that Amazon might be in big trouble? Because there just might be more deals in the works.
Trip Adler, Scribd's chief executive, says the company is also talking to other major American publishers. "This is the first public endorsement by a major force in publishing that the social Web will play a major role in the future of book sales," Mr. Adler said.
Back in May, after posting significant financial losses, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tried desperately to convince shareholders that Kindle needed to be viewed as an investment and not an income generator. How will he spin further losses? Probably with maniacal laughter!