Txtr is based in Berlin Germany and has been in the e-reader and e-book business for quite sometime. Sadly, their entire business model is not viable and they have officially gone bankrupt.
Txtr originally burst onto the international scene in 2008 with plans to capitalize on the e-reader boom. Production and design issues led to their first device never being released. The company flipped gears in 2009 and started doing development for online digital publishers and traditional book sellers. In 2010 and 2011 they quickly became one of the largest companies outside North America developing whitelabel e-book ecosystems. The company’s portfolio includes clients such as Vol Retail and Weltbilde, who is the largest EU book retailer.
Txtr got a much needed injection of funds in 2011 when 3M wanted to get involved in the digital library space. The 3M relationship with Txtr goes beyond the obvious financial benefits of being a partner with a large multinational conglomerate, whose presence is felt in many different technology sectors. When Txtr secured the initial funding from 3M they had toured the company’s headquarters in Minnesota and were blown away by how the research and development aspects of the company was handled.
Txtr and 3M worked together very early on developing the 3M Cloud Library App and e-reader solution for libraries to loan out to their patrons. The relationship between these two companies really helped 3M quickly become a major player in the industry, giving Overdrive and Baker & Taylor a run for their money. Two years ago 3M suspended their relationship with Txtr and started doing all of their app development in-house.
In early 2013 Txtr bet the farm on the Beagle, a low cost e-reader that was designed to pair via Bluetooth to your smartphone and send content directly to your device. The intention behind this product was to forge a relationship with Telecom companies and offer the Beagle for free, as part of an incentive program to sell more smartphones and give users a reason to upgrade. Txtr could not secure any meaningful partners and tried to sell it themselves. Users did not embrace this five inch reader and this was one of the final nails in the coffin for them.
The founders of Txtr formed a new e-book start-up called Blloon that is being marketed via a series of apps in the United Kingdom. Customers purchase credits to read a certain amount of pages in a book, rather than buy the book themselves. Blloon has a number of publishing partners such as HMH, Open Road Media, Allen & Unwin, Diversion Books, Lonely Planet, Profile, RosettaBooks, Faber Factory, Guardian Books, and Workman Publishing.
Selling e-books directly to customers and developing whitelabel solutions for other companies is not a viable way to stay in business anymore. Not only has Txtr gone bankrupt but UK supermarket chain Tesco has just announced they are also shuttering their online bookstore.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.