Feeds

German ebook firm pushes cheapo ereaders into US drug stores

The txtr, sir? It's in the laxatives aisle

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

US book distributor ReaderLink will be pushing German firm txtr's impossibly cheap ereader into US grocery and drug stores, launching a new cloud platform which will also support the devices. The cheap ereaders cost a mere €10 on this side of the pond, but dollar pricing has not yet been announced.

Txtr's Beagle ereader was announced back in October and has been looking for commercial partners ever since. In America that partner will be ReaderLink, a company which already provides books to thousands of grocery and drug stores across America which have hitherto been excluded from the digital revolution.

The ReaderLink plan is to host a cloud locker for books, which can then be read on any device including the bargain-basement txtr Beagle or similar. The company supplies paper books to 24,000 stores and plans to push txtr's bookstore, and hardware, to those retailers.

Berlin-based txtr has been busy stocking the shelves of its virtual store, and now has more than half a million English titles, as well decent catalogues in several other languages. The English-language content is protected with Adobe's DRM (Digital Rights Management) which means electronic books can be viewed on just about any kind of ereader with the notable exception of Amazon's Kindle.

But it is txtr's hardware which has caught the eye - a five-inch ereader which depends on a smartphone to manage and render its content, but costs only €10. The device has a battery life of about a year.

The txtr Beagle achieves this by storing only images of the pages, not the text, which means one can't resize the font or search on the reader, and the device can only store a handful of books, but the outstanding battery life and low cost make those limitations acceptable if txtr can get the smartphone software sorted out.

Currently, for example, one can't delete books - not until the device is full - and with half a dozen PDFs on the device (copied using the Smartphone app), navigation becomes all but impossible as they all have the same name and icon. But epub files work perfectly, and while we never managed to get a (DRM-protected) library book transferred, we did manage to copy various epub titles from phone to reader.

Navigation is limited to four buttons: power, forward, back and enter, with the Bluetooth connection triggered by holding down the power button. Everything else is done using the smartphone app (Android or iOS). The reader is a joy to use, with the pair of AA batteries weighting down the bottom edge and the only significant power drain occurring when the smartphone app is managing the content - to the point where even after a month's intense use we're not able to measure the drain.

But that €10 price is dependent on some subsidy, though txtr won't say how much, and the company has been hawking the concept around mobile network operators for the last few months in the hope of getting one of them to stump up the cash in exchange for a cut of book sales. That's a work in progress, but in the US the company seems to have found a friend in ReaderLink - though today's agreement only covers the cloud store and a promise to sell "an affordable eReader" in rotating wire racks at some point. Nevertheless, it's a significant development for txtr and might convince a telco or two to take idea more seriously. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.