Christopher Warnock's company may have been 10-plus years in the making, but then maybe it's true that good things come to those who wait. The idea to start ebrary Inc. came about in 1989 following a not-so-pleasant trip to the library at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where Warnock was getting his undergraduate degree. Looking for information on building a bicycle, he had to search in three different places before he found the book he wanted-not to mention that half the card catalog was on the computer, the other half was on cards in the filing cabinet, and all the older periodicals were on microfiche. After trips to the third and fourth floors, he finally found the book he wanted in the basement. As he picked it up, he thought: "Somewhere in here is the information I need to know. Wouldn't it be wonderful if at some point all this information were accessible on the computer?"
Now it's 2001, and Warnock's idea has come to fruition: Mountain View, California-based ebrary, which will provide software and services for secure online access and delivery of copyrighted content, is set to go live within the next few weeks. Together with co-founder Kevin Sayar, 33, Warnock has formed partnerships with a number of publishers, who stand to benefit from ebrary in terms of protecting their copyrighted material and furthering their marketing efforts via the Internet. "The reason publishers are willing to go along with this is, if someone wants to copy text or print pages from a document, we're able to charge them very small transaction [fees] for the convenience of doing [that]," says Warnock, 34. "And in this way, we enable the publisher to recoup revenues potentially lost in the photocopying market."