Tuesday, March 17, 2009

MVB throws down the gauntlet as e-Reader competition heats up in Germany

Buchreport ran a useful piece in its Leipzig Book Fair special issue last week shining a figurative backlight on an increasingly crowded and competitive field of e-Readers available in Germany.

At the heart of the article is the recent tension between an alliance of Sony,
Libri (Germany's largest book wholesaler) and Thalia (Germany's largest book chain) and the MVB (Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels), a subsidiary of the German Booksellers and Publishers Association.  

Last Wednesday, the Sony Reader PRS-505 became available at all Thalia bookstores, as well as bookstores serviced by Libri. However, just days before Sony's latest foray into the German retail market, and to coincide with the start of the Leipzig Book Fair, the MVB announced the specifics of its plan to make the comparable Cybook from Bookeen immediately available to booksellers via the MVB online shop, livendo.de. The recommended price of the Cybook device is 280 Euros - a full 19 Euros under the recommended price of the Sony Reader. In addition, e-books finally became available for purchase in PDF format last week on Libreka!, the MVB-operated online book search database.

The much pricier iLiad from iRex is also available via livendo.de. 

Libri executive Holger Bellmann told Buchreport, "We have nothing fundamentally against competition , but when it comes from the subsidiary of one's own association, it does leave a bad taste."

Further competition is waiting in the wings and, though Amazon has still remained tight-lipped about a European launch of the Kindle, the Berlin-based company Wizpac announced the upcoming fall release of the Txtr at the CeBIT conference in Hannover earlier this month. 

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