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Donnelley and Microsoft Team Up for "eBooks"

December 1999
NEW YORK-Computer industry powerhouse Microsoft, looking for a way to jump start its stagnant electronic books initiative, has turned to a printing industry powerhouse for help.

At a news conference here, R.R. Donnelley & Sons officials said they would make Donnelley's books, magazines, catalogs, directories and financial information content available to build a "massive repository" of tens of thousands of titles readable with Microsoft's Reader software.

The software giant rolled out the application at last summer's Seybold show in San Francisco. Microsoft's ClearType font technology will also help develop the e-book market, the company said.

Under the agreement, Donnelley will make its "virtual storehouse" the central point for the production and distribution of electronic book titles from U.S. publishers to U.S. on-line retailers.

Says William L. Davis, Donnelley chairman and CEO: "The combination of our workflow expertise in printing, content conversion and management, coupled with Microsoft software, will prove to be a win-win for the availability, interest and sales of eBooks."

Adds Steve Ballmer, president of Microsoft: "This agreement helps ensure that consumers will have access to compelling and contemporary eBook titles that will look great on any laptop, PC or device."

Under the terms of the agreement, Donnelley will continue to work closely with its publishing partners to convert print titles into eBooks that conform to the recently announced Open eBook (OEB) specification. Donnelley will store and manage these titles in electronic form and work with on-line retailers who will offer the eBook titles to consumers. Donnelley will license key technology tools from Microsoft, including digital rights management technology, for its initial eBook service offerings. Donnelley's system helps ensure that publishers can work with one partner to convert and manage content, as well as protect it, distribute it, and track and receive revenues from it. The system will be available to Donnelley's publishing customers by next spring, officials said.

Microsoft Reader is a new PC software application designed to deliver an on-screen computer reading experience. Microsoft Reader is the first product to include ClearType font technology, a Microsoft innovation that officials say improves resolution on LCD screens for users of desktop or laptop PCs running the Windows operating system, as well as dedicated reading devices. Officials also promise that Microsoft Reader will offer all the things book readers have come to expect from traditional books: clean, uncluttered format; fully justified text; ample margins; and proper spacing, leading and kerning. The format also allows for bookmarking, highlighting and annotation. Microsoft Reader is expected to ship next year.
 

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