DailyLit has an interesting take on the ebook puzzle that no one’s been able to solve yet: Digital books seem like a good idea, but past efforts have been expensive, clumsy and less useful than good old paper and ink.
The Mamaroneck-based company’s answer: Don’t make consumers pay for a dedicated device — instead send it to them, in chunks, via email. The company, launched by the husband and wife team of Albert Wenger and Susan Danziger this spring, started with free public domain titles like Pride and Prejudice. Today it’s launching paid titles, which it’s selling for $5 to $10 a book.
Albert tells us that DailyLit has 30 paid titles from a handful of publishers, but none of the big publishers so far. But it’s a model that should entice the big guys as well: DailyLit typically splits retail revenue 50/50 with the publishers, which means publishers can make more than they do via traditional retailers. And there should be little fear of channel conflict: While getting bite-sized portions of books can be convenient for commuters and travellers, who can click through them on Blackberries and iPhones, it’s unlikely to cut into the sales of traditional books.
Albert is a “Venture Partner” at Union Square Ventures and has invested in del.icio.us, Etsy and Clickable; Susan is a Random House veteran. We’ve tried the product and found it useful, with a few caveats — getting the daily installments to load on our BlackBerry before we hop on the subway is more challenging than it should be, for instance. It’s a business worth keeping eye on. Release