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Scribd opens new market for online texts

Hoping to do for the written word what iTunes did for music, the online document-sharing service Scribd has opened an internet store that will offer new sales opportunities for publishers and authors—including teachers, professors, and others who have written educational texts—and could spawn more bargains for students and other readers. Scribd’s commercial channel, which debuted May 18, marks the first time the 2-year-old service has charged for the material posted on its web site. It claims to have amassed 35 billion words in an eclectic mix of books, essays, PowerPoint presentations, legal briefs, and other documents. Now, Scribd will pocket 20 percent of each sale completed in its online store and will pay the remaining 80 percent to the creators or copyright owners of the written material. It’s a concept similar to other publishing sites, including, but Scribd appears more likely to shake up the market, said Gartner Inc. analyst Allen Weiner. Scribd’s biggest advantage is a system that will allow any document bought from its store to be read on different gadgets—a personal computer, an electronic book reader like’s Kindle, or a sophisticated mobile phone. “That’s the Holy Grail right there, so I think this could turn into a really big deal,” Weiner said. “Its ultimate success will be determined by the number of publishers and authors it can get on board.”

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