Berkshire Publishing have launched a shop using the Exact Editions platform and our e-commerce solution. So their customers can now license their major reference titles online, either for individual use or for institutional subscriptions.

The Berkshire ‘home page’ on our system has a look and feel which reflects the publisher:

All the text in the reference works is searchable, and to an extent the books are also viewable for free in the shopping environment. The limitation is that the pages can only be seen in the 2-page form, which is reasonable for browsing but not at all comfortable for reading. Here is an entry from The Berkshire Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction on ‘Fly-by-wire’.

One of the advantages of showing the 2-page view is that users can then see and benefit from the links in the books. Here is a page of internal navigation links from that book:

This innovation marks an important step change for Exact Editions. In working with book publishers we intend to make it easy for them to create a direct-to-customer e-commerce offering for their titles. Berkshire’s titles are all searchable for free because the depth and value of these titles is gracefully and thoroughly exposed by searching. They are for sale and at reasonable prices because the publisher knows that they have a real market in schools, colleges and among experts. Karen Christensen, Berkshire’s publisher, is keen to push the envelope on ways in which traditional reference can become even more relevant and indispensable in the web eco-system.

There is a surprisingly widespread myth in some web circles that all content on the web will be free and attempts to sell subscriptions will not work. Our experience with consumer magazines and the STM publishers experience in selling periodical subscriptions to institutions shows that this is nonsense. Book publishers need to stop sitting on their versos and start offering their goods through the web medium. The challenge now is to provide scaleable and easy to navigate services for end-users.

The Exact Editions system has been generalised in some crucial ways to support this development. One development has been the new form of searching and full-content browsing which the Berkshire shop is showing to full effect. Another development has been to make our ‘e-commerce solution’ a highly customisable framework, in ways which also retain the benefits of scale among a diversity of publishers. There is a page where our alternative shopping links can be reviewed. There is scope for many more shopping niches and many more currencies.