The proliferation of e-booksellers is fueling innovation in book publishing. One French upstart is taking a hybrid approach, producing its niche titles on-demand in print as well as in e-book form. Jim Felici goes behind the scenes at 00h00.com.
It's the beginning of a new day for publishing. That's the message of Editions 00h00.com, the Paris-based online publisher that takes its name from the French notation for midnight. In this they're undoubtedly right, although the first rosy fingers of dawn may be a way off yet.
There are plenty of online publishers about, and doubtless there are others who, like 00h00 (pronounced "zero hour"), claim to be the first of breed. But far from being founded on the trendy premise of the eventual demise of the paper book, 00h00 has taken the common-sense approach of offering readers a choice: You can order one of its printed books or opt for a PDF version of the same volume. If you order the latter, it will be e-mailed back to you in a few minutes; choose the printed version, and one will be printed on demand and put in the mail tout de suite.
Editions 00h00 also acts as a distributor for selected books, magazines, and journals published by other companies and organizations, for which 00h00 obtains the electronic distribution rights. "We work with all of the major French publishing houses," explains General Director Bruno de Sa Moreira, "Havas, Hachette, Gallimard, Flammarion, and so forth-and acquire the rights to publish their works digitally." As of this writing, 00h00 had some 500 titles available online, of which about 30 are 00h00 originals. That list grows by a minimum of one new title a day.
That list is eclectic and reflects the many cooperative ventures 00h00 is involved in. For example, Bibliopolis is a publishing operation dedicated to making accessible to schools and libraries CD-ROM …