While Apple, Amazon and competition authorities globally tussle over book pricing, a fleet-of foot startup is quietly building an alternative platform others would do well to check out.
txtr is one of the largest independent eBook platforms in Europe. The Berlin based startup began back in 2008, deciding, as one did back then, to bring out an eReading device called the “txtr reader”. I actually saw some of the early units.
However, as colleague John Biggs noted in 2009, there wasn’t much point in doing devices without a store. And so they’ve since switched pretty successfully to a BtoB business model, backed by large investor 3M.
Now they are cleverly expanding around into the nooks and crannies so far unpopulated by the 800 pound gorillas, and have their own iPhone and Android apps to prove it.
Today it’s expanding its relationships with publishing companies across Europe, Asia and North America. Its txtr eBook store is now pre-installed or prominently featured on mobile devices from brands such as ASUS, Acer, Samsung or Toshiba. It’s also on iPhone/iPad.
Similar to Amazon’s multi-device approach, with various Kindle apps complementing its own dedicated e-Reader, txtr employs what it calls its “buy once – read anywhere” strategy (up to 6 different devices per eBook purchase) and targets Apple iOS, Android, PCs running Windows, as well as web and dedicated e-Ink based eReaders.
They do deals with publishers and sell the whole platform (or parts of the technological infrastructure) plus content to hardware manufacturers, telecom companies and ebook distributors.
Txtr is also now entering direct relationships with publishers including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hachette UK, the Cloudary Corporation from China, Immatériel, the sole independent distributor of digital books in France representing 250 publishers, Diogenes Verlag from Switzerland and WPG Uitgevers from the Netherlands. More international deals are on the cards.
The idea is to cover not just books from large publishers, but small independent presses, specialty publishers and self-published authors. It’s also signed an agreement with
Smashwords, the global eBook distributor that represents over 100,000 eBooks
from 40,000 self-published authors and small independent presses.
Next up is a launch in Denmark with two of the leading Danish publishers, Gyldendal, Rosinante&Co and Lindhard go Ringhof.
This will bring the total number of countries in which txtr operates local language eBook
stores to 26.