In an attempt to compete with Amazon (s AMZN) and Barnes & Noble (s BKS), Berlin-based ebook company txtr and U.S. print book distributor ReaderLink have partnered to sell ebooks through new outlets: grocery stores, mass merchants, warehouse clubs, drugstores and department stores. The two companies also plan to design an e-reader or tablet that these stores can sell to their customers.
ReaderLink already distributes print books to clients like Target (s TGT), Walmart (s WMT), Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, Kohls, Stop & Shop and Walgreens, among several others. With the new partnership, those stores can sell ebooks through their websites. According to the release, the partnership will “enable U.S. consumers to buy from any of the ReaderLink powered ebook stores and read all books from a single cloudbased personal library — all of your ebooks in one single vault.” The ebooks can be read through Txtr’s Android (s GOOG) and iOS (s AAPL) apps and through Adobe Digital Editions (s ADBE).
Txtr’s chief commercial officer Thomas Leliveld said:
“The U.S. market is dominated by two players, which makes it hard for others to compete, despite consumer demand. ReaderLink and txtr offer the non-trade and independent booksellers the opportunity to form a ‘virtual federation,’ and, as such, create a strong and viable third alternative for consumers.”
Leliveld also noted that the partnership will lead to “crossover” opportunities, like bundling of physical and ebooks and the chance to convert print readers to digital. “Nearly 2,000 merchandisers have the ability to tie physical and digital offers together and to educate consumers about the most suitable reading devices at the point of sale,” he said.
txtr is backed by 3M and powers 3M Cloud Library, which distributes ebooks to libraries.
ReaderLink, which was formerly known as Levy Home Entertainment, recently partnered with On Demand Books, the maker of the print-on-demand Espresso Book Machine, to bring POD technology to Kodak Picture Kiosks in retail chains like CVS.