Harper Collins Moves Book Browsing Online

Dennis Faas's picture

Last week, HarperCollins, publishers of popular authors Paulo Coelho, Ann Patchett, and Wally Lamb, announced that it will begin to offer some of its newer releases online for free. The company hopes to duplicate on its website what customers have done for decades in brick and mortar store. (Source: nytimes.com)

Visitors will be able to view the entire contents of some books for a limited time. The initial titles include:

  • Paulo Coelho's The Witch of Portobello;
  • I Dream in Blue: Life, Death, New York Giants by Roger Director;
  • Mark Halperin's The Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President: Who the Candidates Are, Where They Come from, and How You Can Choose;
  • Robert Irvine's Mission: Cook!: My Life, My Recipes, and Making the Impossible Easy; and
  • Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter.

In addition, users will be able to preview up to 20% of new releases two weeks prior to their sale date. (Source: harpercollins.com)

Many booksellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chapters.ca, already allow visitors to view limited portions of a wide range of titles, but Harper Collins is the first publisher to make entire books available online. However, after trying out the new feature, the reading interface is not exactly user friendly.

The book appears in a reading pane on the right-hand side of the screen, and displays one page at a time. There are no options to zoom in, which makes reading the book even harder, and ease of switching pages depends entirely on your Internet connection. However, for those who become tired of reading online, the site maintains a permanent "buy now" button which can direct you to a multitude of online retailers, and gives you the option of purchasing the book in a variety of forms including e-book, audio, hardcover and paperback.

While the idea is not revolutionary, allowing customers to browse online in this manner may yield a positive response. Only the most ardent, and cheap, fans will be willing to slog through an entire book online, but allowing customers to fully examine a product before they purchase it may give the publishing industry a boost just when they need it the most.

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