Two Book Pubs Test the Online Waters

Book publishers are slowly warming up to the idea of putting their content online, with two companies announcing separate plans to offer web-based methods to search through their catalogs.

Random House said Tuesday that it planned to offer a service called "Insight" that would allow the consumer to browser through more than 5,000 titles from its archives. The company's authors include the popular Danielle Steele among others.

HarperCollins Publishers on Monday launched the "Browse Inside widget" that would allow consumers to take sample pages of their favorite books and embed them into social networking sites and blogs.

"The Browse Inside widget is the most recent marketing tool we have developed using the capabilities of our digital warehouse to market our titles to the MySpace generation online," said Brian Murray, Group President, HarperCollins.

Similarly, Random House has announced a program that would allow material to be added to web sites, it said.

Until recently, book publishers have shunned the Internet out of a fear of piracy and loss of revenue. However, with society increasingly turning to digital methods of content delivery, publishers are begrudgingly changing their business models.

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