And more power to them.
From Publisher's Weekly:
"For its part, Random has put its stake in the ground about how it expects to be compensated for books that are viewed online. In outlining what is esstentially its terms of sale for digital viewing, Random said that for general fiction and nonfiction titles it expects to earn 4 cents per page for all page views that exceed more than 5% of the total book, a percentage that Random considers to be a fair "free sample." "
I find the 5% threshold interesting, since the 'fair-use' threshold for copying, etc. of books is, (IIRC) 10%.
"For more reference-type material, such as cookbooks, the price will likely be higher and the sampling threshold lower. The price vendors charge consumers for each page view will be determined by each company. Viewing will be limited to on-screen viewing, with no downloading, printing or copying permitted."
Yeah, that'll catch on quickly.
This is never going to work.
There is a nascent movement in terms of ebooks being downloaded and shared for free online, similar to the exchange of music online about, say, five years ago. Legitamate online music sales never caught on until iTunes, for two reasons: 1) the music was too expensive 2) there were too many restrictions on how consumers could use the product. Random House appears to be steering straight for the same shoals.
By the way, would someone tell me why they would pay money to look at a recipe on a computer screen when 1) they don't have a computer screen in their kitchen and 2) there are probably millions of free recipes online already?