Tea is a French ereader startup that has gotten little attention outside of France, and it is about time that changed.
This several year old startup recently signed a deal to provide the DRM used on a German library ebook platform. This DRM will also shortly be added to Tolino's ereaders so they will be compatible with the library ebooks.
But first, let's have some Tea.
Tea has built its own ebook retail platform with 500,000 titles and supports it with apps as well as ereaders. Its partners include a double handful of French retailers as well as Youscribe, the French ebook subscription service, and HarperCollins France, who uses Tea's platform to run its ebookstore (this is part of the Big 5 publisher's plan to fracture the market, and thus limit ebook vsales).
One reason Tea came across my desk today was that their ereaders are rebranded Pocketbook hardware running a custom firmware. Tea's ereaders include the Pocketbook Touch Lux 3, Touch HD, and the Ultra, aka the worst ereader ever made.
Tea's devices kept the original model names, but not the branding. They also gained a new type of DRM. It's called Care, and is based on the DRM developed for Readium.
BTW, there are other apps that also use a form of Readium DRM; it's not clear whether all the apps and ereaders use mutually compatible DRM (this is one of the perils of open-source software).
The big story today, however, comes from Germany.
The German library services company Ekz has announced that it is adopting CARE DRM to manage Divibib, its digital lending system. Divibib is used by 3100 libraries, most of which are in Germany, and accounted for 28 million ebook loans last year.
Supporting library ebooks is a great use for CARE DRM; it's cheaper than Adobe's DRM, and there's little need to worry about long term access.
Divibib will be compatible with Tea's apps and ereaders, and according to reports it will also support Tolino ereaders. Yes, according to press reports they are supposed to be getting an update to add support for the new DRM (in addition to Adobe DRM).
I can't tell if that has happened yet; there's no mention of the change on MobileRead. If and when it does happen it will be another blow against Adobe, the American company that provides DRM and CMS for most library ebook platforms around the world.