Docstoc is opening up a store for publishers to sell their creations. The new service lets users preview, then buy documents that can be viewed in the browser, or downloaded to portable devices.
Josh LowensohnFormer Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Online document host Docstoc on Wednesday is opening up an online store for publishers to sell their wares. The company is acting both as the host and the payment platform, as well as providing the viewing technology for the documents.
As part of the deal, publishers get "a majority" of the revenue, although actual figures are based on a sliding scale and depend on who they are and how Docstoc is promoting them.
In order to avoid serving up two versions of a paid document, such as a preview and full version, Docstoc has updated its Adobe Flash-based viewer to limit viewing to several pages of a document. This lets potential buyers take a look before they buy, just as Amazon and competitor Scribd do.
As for payments, Docstoc is letting users pay via PayPal, Google Checkout, or with a credit card. There's also a money-back guarantee policy that lets users get a refund if they're dissatisfied. The policy gives users a week to make a return, with up to five returns a year. To keep any abuse from happening, the company is also tracking users' IP addresses, to make sure they're not just opening up new accounts and making returns beyond the five-time limit, although Docstoc CEO Jason Nazar told me he doesn't anticipate too heavy a return rate, since the new viewer shows a multipage preview.
Documents purchased through Docstoc can be viewed on the Web or on portable devices like the Kindle and the iPhone. Rather than selling books, Docstoc is specializing in ready-made forms, presentations, and technical documents--what the company is calling "professional utility documents." However, there are some publishers in Docstoc's store, like WriteMyEssay.com, that cover topics outside of business. Nazar says that the store may continue to expand into other areas, but that it will keep "selectively picking the best, high-quality partners" from those that apply to be included in the store.
Competitor Scribd launched a similar offering back in May with a guaranteed 80 percent revenue share to publishers and pricing limits up to $5,000 per title. Docstoc is launching with its aforementioned sliding scale of revenue sharing, which I'm told has no limit on maximum pricing. It will also continue to offer its advertising service, which places Google Adsense ads next to documents that are offered for free.