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.)

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Three questions for…Christophe Maire of txtr

The txtr beagle device helps mobile carriers enter the ebook market

1. Ebook adoption in Europe is lagging what we’ve seen in the U.S. What do you feel should be done to increase demand in Europe: Better reading devices, lower prices, something else?

There is no doubt that the demand is here. European consumers are just as keen on ebooks as the rest of the world! The primary driver is the distribution of attractive devices and competitive services. We have not seen a consistent push, like for B&N’s Nook, in Europe yet – so there is a lot of room for growth and new players have a chance too (i.e. mobile operators, etc.).

2. How is txtr different from the other major ebook players such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo?

In term of content offering we are very similar. We also support all of the same platforms and offer a versatile cloud-centric solution. Our business model is just different as we serve the needs of device makers, mobile operators, and retailers who are starting to realise that they cannot afford to leave the field to Amazon.

3. How can the txtr beagle that you recently launched help drive ebook adoption (see short video below)?

The txtr beagle has specifically been designed for mobile operators (and retailers who sell data plans). It will allow the operator to finally leverage their distribution power to establish a relationship with readers through a credible ebook offering. This is the same channel which has brought mobile navigation and games to the mass market. The beagle is a companion device to smartphones. It is the lightest, smallest, and cheapest way to combine true ePaper with smartphone data plans.

Christophe Maire is the CEO of txtr.

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!