The Scribd Store, which opened this morning in beta, is the latest online venture that could change the way the ailing publishing industry staggers into the 21st century. Scribd has been live for two years now, and until today, has been entirely free; the Scribd Store will provide a new avenue for authors and publishers to sell their wares, both commercially—and self-published. The site will take 20% of each sale, according to the AP.
Scribd's store brings it into competition with self-publishing site Lulu.com, but Scribd has one salient advantage: its versatile document formatting system can produce readable text for computers, smartphones, Kindles, and other gadgets. The store will also take cues from iTunes, allowing, for example, authors to sell their books by the chapter, much the way artists can sell on iTunes by the song.
Mindful of the recession, Scribd's brass hopes its store will appeal to buyers and sellers alike. Since the minimum price for a text is only $1, and the overhead for authors and publishers adding a book to Scribd is nearly nil, that should make for book buys that rival Amazon's Kindle store.