GPO teams with Barnes & Noble to deliver e-books

Like most publishers, the Government Printing Office has been branching out into electronic book publishing. GPO has now signed an agreement with Barnes and Noble to make government e-books available on the book retailer's Nook e-reader.

"GPO continues to expand into the e-book market and make more federal titles available to the public," said Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks in a written statement. "GPO is fulfilling its mission of keeping America informed by providing the public with multiple formats and outlets that they can use to access federal government information conveniently and economically."

In addition to Nook, GPO makes government publications available through Google's eBookstore, Overdrive, Ingram and Zinio.  Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iTunes bookstore are not among the partners, but a GPO spokesman said, "GPO is currently in discussions with other companies about selling federal eBooks and future announcements will be forthcoming."

About 30 government titles electronically, including Public Papers of the President Barack Obama, Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling (the BP Oil Spill Commission Report), the Financial Crisis Inquiry Report, and the Commerce Department's new Basic Guide to Exporting.

Because the market is new, GPO has little data on the sales of the e-books, said Herbert Jackson, GPO’s managing director of business products and services.

“It’s early now,” he said. But the market is growing, and “I believe as we expand our relationships we’ll see more interest.” Jackson spoke to Bill Jackson of FCW's sister publication, Government Computer News.

Jackson predicted that scientific publications are likely to be the big sellers in the e-book formats because their paper versions can run to hundreds of pages, a heavy load to carry around a campus or in the field. “We believe it is the more technical kind of digital content people are looking for," he said.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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