When Berlin-based Txtr announced its tiny e-reader, the Beagle, at the Frankfurt Book Fair last fall, the plan was that it would cost under €10 (USD $13) because it would be subsidized by mobile carriers. “We believe e-reading is a great tool for mobile operators to strengthen their relationship with consumers,” Txtr CEO Christopher Maire said at the time.
So far, though, those deals with mobile providers haven’t been made public. Txtr announced Wednesday that it is selling the Beagle directly online in Europe for €59 (USD $76). “We are in talks with mobile operators and will announce details of the packages offered soon,” the company says on its website (via Google Translate). “For those who do not want to wait any longer, we offer an exclusive and unique opportunity to acquire the txtr beagle.” The Beagle will also eventually be sold in the United States for $69.
However, deals with mobile providers appear to be on the way. Txtr’s COO, Thomas Leliveld, told me that Txtr is “in contract phase with a leading EU operator” that will offer a subsidized device under €20. “We are also in closing stage with five more major EU operators,” he said. “I hope to be able to announce the lead customer in the next few weeks.”
At €59, the Beagle isn’t a great deal: It’s a barebones, Wi-Fi-less e-reader that runs on two AAA batteries. Users transfer ebooks to it from their Android (s GOOG) smartphones via Bluetooth; iOS (s AAPL) is not yet supported. The €59 purchase price includes a €10 credit for ebooks. By comparison, Amazon (s AMZN) sells its cheapest Kindle (which includes Wi-Fi) in Europe for €79 (USD $102).