Reports of the demise of the German ebook startup txtr have been mildly exaggerated.
An email went out late last week to German publishers, informing them that txtr was being taken over by a European retail conglomerate. Publishers Lunch reported that Media-Saturn-Holding, the parent company of the Media Markt, Saturn, and Redcoon chains, will be adopting txtr as its ebook platform.
The retail services company Storecast.de will run the platform on Media-Saturn-Holding's behalf. It's not clear who owns what at this time, but Media-Saturn-Holding reportedly took on the responsibility for payment obligations and contractual relationships as of 1 April.
It's also hired a number of former txtr employees, including Dan Vidra, but not all the employees will be making the transition. Txtr had previously reported that some of its staff had departed the company to go work at Zalando, an online fashion platform. Also, a number of former txtr staffers, including former CEO Thomas Leliveld, had already left the company last year and decamped to launch Blloon, a new ebook startup which offers a subscription ebook service.
With annual revenues of over 21 billion euros, Media-Saturn-Holding operates stores in 15 countries in Europe, including Russia and Turkey. This makes the conglomerate about as good of a fit for the late ebook startup as we could have hoped following txtr's bankruptcy in January.
I will admit that I was somewhat surprised that Rakuten isn't the new owner, given that the Japanese conglomerate recently bought OverDrive. I would have thought that txtr's tech would be worth buying, but now that so many employees have flown the coop Rakuten may have decided that txtr was no longer worth the expense.
Txtr has not yet informed its customers about the changeover, and if I get an email I will amend this post. I have also queried Media-Saturn-Holding and asked for more details on this story. I'll post their response when i get it.