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DocStoc opens up its store to (almost) anyone

DocStoc is opening up its Web store to pretty much anyone this week, which means anyone with a "professional" document will be able to sell it online, through DocStore.

Online document host DocStoc launched its DocStore online marketplace a little less than a year ago, and since then it's grown to more than 1 million downloads a month. However, up until now it's only allowed a handful of hand-picked providers to sell their wares on its site. That's changing with a new service that will let just about anyone with what the company deems to be a "professional document" sell their stuff.

In order to be a part of it, people with documents to sell--such as templates for housing leases, business contracts, letters of resignation, and wills--have to apply to be approved as a seller. DocStoc will then give their documents a once-over to see if it's a fit and that it's not something that's already on the service. After that's all taken care of, the seller gets 100 percent of the price of any sales for the first 60 days, after which DocStoc will begin splitting it 50/50.

In order to court document sellers, DocStoc is offering analytics that will show basic sales numbers, along with how much those documents are being viewed if embedded online. These tools have been around for existing DocStore sellers since last year. What's new is that content owners will now be able to sell those documents from external sites, right from the embed itself. DocStoc is also setting up a live customer service center to field calls from both sellers and buyers in case there are any problems.

Eventually, DocStoc will have an affiliate program that will let people who embed these for-sale documents reap their own rewards--even if they're not the original content provider. This could set up an ecosystem of businesses--or individuals--that can make money by curating whatever content ends up on DocStoc's storefront.

Another new trick is that DocStoc is letting publishers sell their content in packs, which means sellers can apply a discount to bulk purchases. In a call with CNET earlier this week, DocStoc CEO Jason Nazar said he expects this to be a big selling point to content owners who might otherwise have had trouble getting users to buy separate segments of a series. The only catch is that these packs are still being sold back on, so businesses that want to sell these items within their own site's ecosystem will have to send customers elsewhere for now. Nazar said that the store will eventually go white label, so that these companies will be able to build that same kind of store within their site with very little effort.

Interestingly, these documents--once purchased--continue to have no digital rights management attached to them. Nazar says this is intentional, due mostly to the fact that people are buying things like legal contracts. "You need to be able to manipulate it," he said. "As far as classic DRM, once you purchase it, that's not really something we focus on." Though Nazar did say the company was working on a DRM solution for certain types of content, which will be ready in the next few months. Also on the horizon is integration with Plastic Logic and its upcoming Que proReader, which is due out later this year.

DocStoc competes with a handful of companies in the digital documents arena including Scribd, Issuu, and Edocr--the largest of those being Scribd, which has its own document store that offers publishers an 80 percent cut. Whether content creators think DocStoc's bundling options and buying-from-the-embed features are worth the extra 30 percent cut they'd get over at Scribd remains to be seen.