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Gamechangers: Two important announcements at TOC Frankfurt

Bookshout and txtr aim to disrupt the publishing industry

It’s after midnight here in Frankfurt but I’ve got to give a quick shout-out to two of the most innovative announcements at today’s TOC Frankfurt. First up, txtr and their Beagle device. Watching txtr CEO Christophe Maire introduce the Beagle today reminded me of a post I wrote more than two years ago where I suggested that Amazon should offer an extremely inexpensive Kindle with no wifi or 3G and just have it connect to your cellphone to purchase content.

txtr beat them to it with the Beagle. Watch this video and see if you agree that every man, woman, and child should have one of these cute devices. The Beagle isn’t for you or I though. It’s for all those people who have yet to jump onto the ebook bandwagon. But imagine getting one of these free with your next cellphone purchase/contract. You buy ebooks on your phone and move them to your Beagle via Bluetooth. Brilliant!

Then there’s BookShout. I introduced BookShout CEO Jason Illian at TOC today and I told the audience he was about to make a very important announcement. Jason’s company is helping us take the first steps towards tearing down the walled gardens around two of the biggest ebook platforms: Amazon’s Kindle and B&N’s Nook.

As you’ll see in this BookShout press release, you can now import your Kindle and Nook ebook purchases into the BookShout social reader platform. I just moved all my Kindle ebooks into it. What a liberating experience. I was half-tempted to open my hotel window and yell out, “Mr. Bezos, tear down this wall!” :-)

I’ll write a couple of more in-depth pieces about both txtr and Bookshout before the end of the week. In the meantime, let’s raise a glass and toast the industry innovators and disruptors!

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  • http://twitter.com/JosephJEsposito Joseph Esposito

    Truly fascinating announcements.  Thanks for noting them, Joe.

  • http://profiles.google.com/edward.w.bear Edward Bear

    Ummm. Why, if I already have a cell phone, should I get JAGDGIHTCA? (Just another GD gadget I have to carry around.)

    I got into eBooks in the first place so I wouldn’t have to carry around pounds and pounds of paper just to have something to read. My PalmPilot served me well for over a decade, and my smartPhone is even better at the job.

    So why, I ask in all seriousness, should I carry a second gadget just for books when the combination of shuBook and my phone can hold over fifty books and still enable me to get phone calls, play puzzles, and, unlike eInk, the display doesn’t give me a migraine?

    • jwikert

      Edward, you’re like me…and the txtr device isn’t intended for either of us. It’s aimed at everyone else who hasn’t ever even ventured into the ebook purchasing world before now.

    • Stephen

      Agreed. I’ve just started reading on my phone, and can’t see why I’d ever use my Kobo again. Even if some argue that eink is better for reading (which I don’t agree with), why carry two devices when one does everything?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1794217810 Rich Dailey

    BookShout: As a reader, my head is spinning. As an author, my head is spinning faster. Nice.

  • QuanEconGuy

    This is a compelling development, no doubt, but as Owen points out in her PaidContent article (http://tinyurl.com/paidcontent-bookshout ) it may only be a matter of time before Bezos and Riggio shut it down at their respective ends. Also, as I asked on the P-C website: Bookshout’s primary objective is a mash up of social media and book reading, so does anyone know of any study or survey to indicate that there is a demand for such a service?

    • jwikert

      I like the fact that I can now bring my Amazon and B&N purchases together into one platform. I also like it that the Bookshout platform has a better comment sharing feature than either Amazon or B&N. Let’s not forget that Amazon forced Findings.com to shut down their Kindle highlights sharing feature; Amazon wants to keep all that in their own ecosystem. And yes, I’m sure Amazon and probably B&N will look into (if not pursue) their legal options. I’d love to hear why they feel they believe this service is illegal though.

  • http://www.bradleyrobb.net/ P. Bradley Robb

    My prediction was off by about 6 months – http://www.fictionmatters.com/2010/01/05/the-history-of-publishing-2010-2020-3/ albeit, lacking the decentralized manner which would allow BookShout to survive DMCA anti-circumvention fussiness. 

    • jwikert

      Not sure I see how DMCA would apply in this situation. The end users are freely giving their log-in credentials and the publishers have given their support for the initiative. I don’t see any type of reverse-engineering. If this is illegal then I suppose banks and other financial institutions could make a case for mint.com being illegal as well. I certainly hope not though as that’s one of my favorite financial services.

      • http://www.bradleyrobb.net/ P. Bradley Robb

        Oh, not for the reverse engineering (that’s legalish), it’s DRM circumvention that will get BookShout into trouble. Even if both publishers and end users give permission, it’s still illegal to circumvent DRM, even for otherwise legal acts. So, BookShout runs into a major issue in that it can only play DRM-free titles. 

        Granted, O’Reilly titles are naturally exempt for this. 

  • William Ockham

    BookShout is indistinguishable from malware. They ask for my Amazon account info, but there are no explanation of how they use it. No restrictions in their terms of service. The current owners may be the most honest people in the world, but this is a terrible precedent to establish. You are recommending an app that gets people used to a behavior that will lead to copycat apps that steal from people. You should NOT endorse apps that encourage easily victimized behavior by the average person.

    • jwikert

      William, please see BookShout CEO Jason Illian’s earlier response to your question about security: http://oreil.ly/Qi2F2Z

  • William Ockham

    Did anyone read the BookShout! terms of service? Here’s what it says:

     BookShout! will access, make available and store (if applicable) any content that you have provided to and stored in your Third Party Account…

    Any content includes your credit card information from your Amazon account. Why do they need to access, make available and store credit card information? If they don’t, why do they want their customers to agree to that?

  • Stephennui

    I signed up for Bookshout after hearing about them in relation to TOC and promptly tried to delete my account after having a look around. This was all but impossible, and I had to post on their Facebook page to work out how to do it. Not that I could – I had to ask them to delete the account via their support forum.

    Bookshout may have some good ideas, but from the little I’ve seen they’re doing a terrible job and I’m surprised that they’re being given this much coverage.