Keel Hunt
News Release
08 May 2000
Microsoft, Lightning Strike New Alliance to Dramatically Expand Access to eBooks, Other Digital Content

LA VERGNE, TN - Microsoft and Lightning Source, a subsidiary of Ingram Industries Inc., today announced a new alliance that will give publishers and retailers a revolutionary technology platform to meet growing consumer demand for eBooks and provide dramatically expanded access to thousands of new titles in Microsoft Reader format.

For users of Microsoft Reader, this alliance will dramatically increase both the selection of eBooks titles available as well as the number of retail options for purchasing eBooks. Lightning has long-standing, trusted relationships with publishers and retailers around the world, and has an established reputation as one of the most knowledgeable providers of digital content in the book industry. By utilizing Microsoft technology to help offer its titles in electronic format, Lightning's digital library will be more accessible to an increasing number of publishers, retailers, and consumers.

"Together, Microsoft and Lightning will make possible what simply could not be done before. Microsoft's cutting-edge technology positions us to help publishers and retailers expand the market for eBooks and other digital content," said Lightning Source President and CEO Ed Marino. "With the capability to manage a myriad of digital files, Lightning is now the only source these businesses need to quickly get books 'on demand' in either traditional printed formats or various electronic formats. These changes promise to increase business opportunities by making access to titles more convenient than ever before." "This alliance brings the promise of 21st century technology to the doorsteps of booksellers and publishers everywhere, helping to build innovative new ePublishing business models while protecting against the unauthorized usage or distribution of content," said Dick Brass, Vice President of Technology Development at Microsoft. "Lightning has amassed an unparalleled track record and has earned the trust of the industry. That combined with our cutting-edge technology makes for a potent combination. Consumers now have the power to hold a virtual library in the palm of their hands - and actually enjoy reading it on a computing device."

Publishers who store their titles in Lightning's digital library will be able to reach a broader audience of readers by offering eBooks in addition to traditional printed books. Booksellers will be able to meet changing consumer demands by offering books in a variety of formats.

The alliance represents one of a series of moves by Lightning reflecting its evolution from a pioneer in "on demand" printing to a leading provider of an expanded menu of digital fulfillment services. In a separate release, the company today announced a name change from Lightning Print Inc. to Lightning Source as well as a new website (

Revolutionary eBook Technology Platform Microsoft Reader, with its revolutionary ClearTypeT display technology, delivers an on-screen computer reading experience that for the first time approaches the convenience and quality of reading text on paper. Developed by Microsoft Research, Microsoft Reader greatly improves font resolution on LCD screens for users of Pocket PCs, laptops and desktop PCs running the Windows® operating system. Beyond ClearType, Microsoft Reader includes patented reading enhancements that adhere to the best qualities of fine typography. It provides a clean, uncluttered display; ample margins; full justification; proper spacing, leading and kerning; and powerful tools for bookmarking, highlighting and annotation.

Microsoft Reader currently ships with the Pocket PC and will be available for other platforms via free download in mid-2000. Expansive Digital Library To complement Microsoft's software, Lightning will provide the delivery vehicle to offer content to consumers. Lightning stores books and related materials in electronic form in a digital library that includes more than 9,000 titles - a number that grows by an average of 250 titles every week. Lightning's innovative technology, which was first used to rapidly print books in response to orders from publishers, is now being used to offer a multitude of digital content delivery capabilities. With new eBook and digital fulfillment services, Lightning will exponentially expand its title base and build relationships with an ever-increasing number of publishers and retailers.

"We recognize the value of relationships in the publishing industry," said Marino. "Publishers know Lightning is a source they can trust to deliver their titles to readers securely, and retailers recognize that Lightning can help them meet the evolving needs of consumers. Now with Microsoft Reader capabilities, publishers and retailers have new avenues to market and sell their books."

"We want to offer this new eBook technology platform to enhance the reading experience for consumers by marrying the best that traditional printed books and new eBooks have to offer," said Brass. "By making books available through Microsoft Reader, you can reach more customers and get more people reading."

Lightning Source Inc., a subsidiary of Ingram Industries Inc., provides a comprehensive suite of demand-driven publishing solutions for publishers. The company is revolutionizing the options available to the industry in the storage, management, and distribution of digital content. Lightning Source stores books and other information electronically and delivers them “on demand” in either traditional printed format or as e-Books in response to orders from booksellers, librarians, and publishers. Lightning Source has printed over 40,000,000 books for over 4,500 publishers around the world. For more information, visit our website at
The Lightning Source name, corresponding logos, taglines and other service marks identifying Lightning Source and its services are the proprietary marks of Lightning Source Inc. and must be represented accordingly. Other products and company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.