Joe Regal, founder of Zola Books, the much-anticipated e-book retailing startup, title recommendation and social media site, announced plans to start selling e-books from Macmillan by late next week. Macmillan is the first major publisher to begin selling its e-books through the site, Regal said during a panel at the Tools Of Change Conference in New York, to be followed by more publishers over the next three months.

In a short interview with Zola at the TOC conference, Regal said he was slowly adding publisher titles to the site, because “we need to show publishers that we can take care of their content.” Regal said the site was simply making sure there were no glitches in the technology and publishers were satisfied: “We’ve got big ambitions for this site and its tough to try to do all of it at once. We need to make sure that things are working.” Regal plans to add more publisher titles over the next three months.

Since its launch in September, Regal told PW, the Zola Books web site has been up and running but without books to sell (although the site has some exclusive deals and self-published books available for sale). “There’s already a few thousand folks visiting the site everyday offering suggestions, feedback and responding to the site,” Regal said.

Consumers buying books through the Zola Books site will be able to read them on any device using standard file formats. Consumers can also use the Zola iPad/iPhone app. The Zola Books’ interface is designed to enhance sharing, recommendation and community. While the app is available for download now, Zola Book apps will eventually offer a variety of new social sharing features designed to work automatically with the e-books.

Macmillan will have more than 10,000 titles available through the site from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Henry Holt St. Martin’s, Tor, Thomas Dunne and other units at the house. Macmillan has been in the forefront of recent controversies around e-book retailing, first confronting over agency pricing and, until joining the DoJ e-book pricing settlement in the last week, the house was the last publisher charged in the collusion suit to accept the DoJ settlement.

“John Sargent has consistently been one of the industry leaders through the transformation,” Regal said, “and we liked the idea of making Macmillan's books available on Zola first in recognition of his vision.”

Regal said over the next three months Zola Books will add more publisher e-book titles to their inventory every few weeks. The site will also add more “functionality to the site and the reading experience, so in a few short months Zola will be on its way to becoming the first truly cross-platform social e-books retailer.”