Expanding the “ereading pie” with device simplicity

Txtr's Dan Vidra says the Beagle ereader isn't aiming to take down Amazon and Apple but hopes to expand the ereading ecosystem.

Last fall, German startup Txtr announced it would be releasing a new ereading device called the Beagle in 2013. At the recent TOC conference in New York, I had an opportunity to sit down with Dan Vidra, VP Americas at Txtr, to talk about the Beagle and the market it’s targeting. (Our video interview is embedded below.)

The Beagle’s pricing will be very low, somewhere in the neighborhood of $13. This will be achieved through its streamlined features and abilities — only for reading, it lacks Internet connectivity and relies on the user’s smartphone to transfer content over a Bluetooth connection, for instance — and subsidized expense through telecom carriers. The partnership with carriers, Vidra says, allows the Beagle’s reach to tap into the carriers’ subscriber bases; actual book sales will go through Txtr’s platform. (At the 2:13 mark.)

Vidra says the company is in talks with the mobile carriers now and that the Beagle will launch first in Asia and Europe, then in North America. Vidra also says the company is looking at models to bring the Beagle directly to consumers, bypassing the necessity of a telecom carrier. (At the 0:36 mark.) The Beagle isn’t taking direct aim at Amazon and Apple, however — Vidra says the goal is to “expand the pie,” providing smaller retailers with a digital platform for ebook sales:

“Amazon is a terrific retailer and has a fantastic customer experience; Apple has terrific devices. So, at Txtr — specifically, with our relationship with Reader Link and the idea of helping and working with some of Reader Link’s key retailers — the idea is just to be able to expand the pie, to be able to offer some of the customers of these retailers a digital option, to be able to have all their books in one place in a library that works on any device. And for a device like the Beagle, just to be able to reach readers where they are in a way that they want to be reached. So, this kind of expands the reading pie for retailers. As far as authors go, it’s a way to get their story to people in the manner in which they wish to be reached.” (At the 4:04 mark.)

You can view Vidra’s entire interview in the following video:

All keynotes and video interviews from TOC NY 2013 can be found on the TOC 2013 YouTube playlist.

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