Rumor: German Bookseller Thalia to Sell the B&N Nook

Everyone has long since known that Barnes & Noble has plans to expand internationally but no one out side of B&N knows where they plan to launch first - until now. is reporting that B&N has supposedly formed a partnership with Thalia, one of Germany's larger bookstore chains. didn't indicate their source for this story, so I would take it with a large grain of salt. But even though it is a rumor, it's still quite plausible.

We know that B&N has already registered a local subsidiary in Germany. This was back in March, and I've been told that the German sub indicated plans for the German market, but that was more due to the fact that the B&N's other subsidiary, the one in the Netherlands, was positioned in a more business friendly environment.

While we don't know if Thalia is B&N's intended partner, they are one of the more likely candidates. They have over 200 stores in Germany, and they've also been putting a lot of effort into developing their own ebookstore and ereader.  They've even released a couple models (Oyo, Oyo II), though I don't know how much success they've had on the market. Thalia also bought an app developer by the name of Textunes last year. This developer specializes in reading and ebook apps, and that should give you an idea how seriously they are taking the ebook market.

On the other hand, there is at least one other possible partner in Germany; Weltbild. This publisher and media retailer has released a number of ereaders under its own brand in the past year. All were rebranded devices originally developed by other companies, and that would likely give Weltbild a step up in rebranding the Nook. Weltbild is also currently up for sale by its owner, the Catholic Church, so there's even a chance that B&N might buy it. Assuming they had the funds, it might even be a good idea.

In any case, I agree with that B&N is working with someone in Germany; I'm just not convinced that it's Thalia.

About Nate Hoffelder (11480 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

3 Comments on Rumor: German Bookseller Thalia to Sell the B&N Nook

  1. As my father got an Oyo (first version) for XMas 2010 I know it and have made the firmware updates and loaded it with books.
    It is your basic reader with WLAN and Touchscreen, EInk-Display is not Pearl, but the cheaper one. Software is a version of Linux. The reader needed several firmware Updates, the last one was just installed, I cannot say for sure wether it is now bug-free or wether the hardware (touchscreen?) is at fault, but before the last update the reader froze and needed to be reset through the hole in the back for Reset.
    That the reader is slow is to be expected given the release date. WLAN is ok but not great. The reader itself has page-turn-buttons in addition to the touch-screen which I really like. It’s white, and has a good grip and nice feel to it and can be hold easily in one hand without a cover (my Sony PRS-T1 in comparison has a too small border to hold without a cover with one hand to read, but maybe that’s just me).

    The reader can display epub and pdf with Adobe DRM. I strip bought books of DRM and you are able to copy EPUB to the reader without problem, through USB or WLAN. Books can be bought in Germany from Thalia, Libri and Libreka with the Browser directly on the reader if you want. Pubbles and maybe Kobo should also work. Thalia has a shop near my parents home, where they can go for support, but for some reason the shop-assistants missed at least two firmware-upgrades. I was not too fond of the reader in comparison to Kindle or Sony, but for a long time it was the best one for Eur 100 (Us$ 128 as per todays $). The different Sony readers at that time cost Eur 200 or much more. Only in Oktober 2011 I bought the Sony, and had it ordered long before that, that was the release date for Germany. The Sony PRS-T1 is Eur 150 and was (and still is) not available marked down.
    Kindle 4 Touch was just now (April or May 2012) made available in Germany. So until now the offers of EReaders where rather slim and the Oyo was a bargain.

    The second version of Oyo is supposed to be better, and you have a choice of WLAN or WLAN with 3G, paid for by Thalia.

    My conclusion is, that the Oyo 1 was an ok reader with bad firmware, I am not too sure if all bugs are gone now (more than 1,5 years after it was released in Time for XMas 2010).

    If I where to suggest a new eReader now, the B&N would be on the list, along with Kindle 3 and 4. While I still prefer the Sony, for what it offers it is IMHO in Germany too expensive. And Sony failed to offer a shop (which is still promised to come). So I am eager to see, wether B&N partners with Thalia.

    One word to prices in Germany: all Books in German are subject to Buchpreisbindung – this is comparable to the agency model, all shops sell German Books for the same price. And this is the same for eBooks, which are also priced just below the current printed version, be it hardcover or paperback(mass market).

    • The display of the Oyo is not even E Ink, but (the inferior) Sipix.
      The Oyo was also sold by a bookseller chain in The Netherlands, but as far as I know it was no success.

  2. I think Barnes and Noble’s retail management team would get a kick out of working with the Catholic Church.

    Chairman Len Riggio himself is an old-school Italian, very devout Catholic and he surrounded himself with like-minded people. The PR lady used to work for the Diocese of Scranton.

    I doubt this will impact the partnership arrangements, though, as Newco has a completely different management team.

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