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.