3M bought txtr – Could this be the new e-reader giant?

Last week I reported on the new 3M Cloud Library, a new digital library platform that's due to be launched later this year. The 3M CL will have apps and integrated ereaders, and it will function much the same as Overdrive.

This was a rather ambitious project for 3M, considering that the 3M Library Systems division hasn't done anything like this before, so I immediately started pondering who they were working with.

Actually, finding 3M's partner was easy. My second choice showed up as the first result of a Google Search. If you click the link you'll see that 3M is connected to the ereader company txtr through their "New Ventures Business". That sounds surprisingly like 3M bought part of txtr, doesn't it?

Part, hah. I have paperwork (link) in front of me that shows 3M owns about 25% of txtr. They're the biggest stockholder, and I'd bet they're going to buy the rest in the not too distant future. (The last column of the PDF shows which the specific stock numbers owned by each party.)

I'm sure you know who 3M is; they're a huge manufacturing company. But txtr is relatively unknown outside of digital publishing. This company were founded in 2008 with the goal of developing a cloud friendly ereader. The txtr eReader was unveiled in 2009, with an expected ship date in late 2009. It was pushed back to 2010 due to manufacturing problems.  Eventually it was cancelled; it was simply too expensive.

Curiously enough, 3M had decided to invest in txtr long before txtr cancelled their ereader.

It's clear to me that txtr will be providing most of the parts of the platform. They already make Android and iOS apps and they have a good part of the support software already written. In fact, they've been making apps for third parties for the the past year and they've built a couple digital stores.

In fact, I'm now feeling  a lot more confident about the ereader integration. The 3M Cloud Library is supposed to provide significantly better support for their ereaders than Overdrive provides for the various ereaders it supports. Now I understand how 3M are going to accomplish it.

3M just went from being an outsider gambling on a long shot to being serious competition for Overdrive.That's what this acquisition means.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

12 Comments

  1. Clucker27 May, 2011

    omg txtr? I love txtr!. Yay for txtr!

    Reply
  2. Mike Cane27 May, 2011

    I don’t think someone this late to the game has a chance. With Sony expected to pull out, 3M should take the hint and not even go there,

    Reply
  3. Jeff Pesek31 May, 2011

    interesting thoughts….I’m most curious to learn how you obtained that paperwork showing 3M owned 25% of txtr?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder31 May, 2011

      This kind of paperwork has to be filed with the German government. You can get a copy of it (it cost 15 euros or so).

      Reply
  4. […] and the programmers behind the epub reading app, Txtr.  Nate thinks they are going to be a competitor to Overdrive. I would not have guessed that 3M, of all companies, would have entered the market of digital […]

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  5. […] was in the news last week when it was revealed that 3M, a major manufacturer, had invested in Txtr. 3M had also announced a couple weeks ago that it would soon launch the 3M Cloud Library, a new […]

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  6. […] actually the third company that I know of that make and license reading apps. The other 2 are txtr (now owned by 3M) and Bluefire. It’s nice to see the market get crowded. […]

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  7. […] invested in txtr last year, so this makes a fair amount of sense. 3M saved the expense of developing a new device and txtr […]

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  8. […] was last in the news a couple months ago, when I revealed that it had been bought by 3M, the multinational manufacturing company.  3M invested in txtr as part of the 3M Cloud Library, a […]

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  9. […] some might jump to the conclusion that this is related to the similar investment that 3M made in txtr, the ebook services company. I doubt it. While 3M might like to use that screen on an e-reader, it […]

    Reply
  10. […] Library was clearly conceived to be a direct competitor to OverDrive.As I’ve posted before, a good part of the 3M Cloud Library was written by txtr, the German ereader developer. 3M invested in txtr just for the Cloud Library, and 3M now owns […]

    Reply
  11. […] txtr's most well-known customer was 3M, which both invested in the ebook company in 2011 and hired txtr to develop parts of the 3M Cloud […]

    Reply

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