At the London Book Fair this week, several publishers are making announcements aimed at improving their digital strategies. Penguin will, from September, start releasing digital editions in the .epub format at the same time as print counterparts. Digital director Genevieve Shore (via Guardian): “We have seen, in other markets, that the digital bestsellers are the same books making it to the top of the bestseller lists and we know our readers expect both editions to be available at the same time.”
At the same time, Random House is releasing a web app letting users search, read and buy books from any site on the web. The full-page Flash tool, which has been labelled a “widget”, indexes 500 titles, aims to have 5,000 by year’s end and is effectively a replica of Amazon’s (NSDQ: AMZN) Look Inside feature – ie. publishers are hoping “try before you buy” will entice readers back to books. It’s so far been added to Random House’s own RBooks retail site but will also be added to Play.com, LoveReading, Gardners and BookRabbit. Here’s an example. Release.