Media Distributor to Make Books, Movies Available for Download

Books have stood the test of centuries relatively unchanged, except for the minor advancement of paperback covers. Online media distributor Kanakaris Communications Inc., however, is convinced there is a market for books without bindings, delivered via the Internet. The operator of KKRS.net launched two new outlets on the site Wednesday to sell full-length books and movies that can be downloaded to computers.

As online booksellers like Amazon.com have become legends in the new retail world, the concept of online bookselling is not new. Nor is the idea of using the Internet to order out-of-print books, which can then be printed strictly on demand, as Borders.com announced plans to do in June. Making books available for downloading, however, takes the Internet’s role in reading another step further.

To lure avid readers and movie-goers to its new library in cyberspace, KKRS is even giving away select titles. The goodwill offering includes 15 works by William Shakespeare and all of Charles Dickens’ novels. The site also offers original proprietary titles for free downloading.

Kanakaris says it is aggressively pursuing distribution rights to book titles, with more than 2,000 already on its list. The company is using its online presence to court publishers looking for a way to reach readers, touting its ability to give new authors immediate exposure to a worldwide audience “while avoiding traditional publishing and distribution hassles.”

The company also signed on home video pioneer George Atkinson to acquire movies for online delivery. KKRS.net previews new movies each week as it acquires them, the company says. Kanakaris started showing movies on the Internet in early July. The movies are displayed on the KKRS.net site using GEO Interactive Inc.’s Emblaze Technology for streaming video.

Pros and Cons

Kanakaris says one of the biggest advantages of downloading entire books from the Internet is the interactivity such files provide. For example, readers can change pages without scrolling, re-size the book’s type to make it easier to read and search by words and phrases.

The service also includes the obvious advantage of faster delivery than printed books ordered via the Internet. Online books carry the same downsides as online newspapers — the printed versions are more portable, weighing less than even most laptop computers, and printed pages are believed to be easier on the eyes than glowing computer screens.

Online delivery also raises the intellectual property questions now familiar to online music sellers: Can the downloaded books be copies and resold? Can they be shared with other computer users without special viewing technology?

Kanakaris says the permission to print books varies based on each author’s discretion. Online reading must be done at the KKRS.net Web site, which employs a Java applet designed by ION Systems Inc. to display the books and permit readers to turn pages and perform other functions. The books can be downloaded for later reading but must be read using a Java-enabled Web browser.

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