Here’s a painful story to write about what was once a very interesting ebook startup.
The French Canadian ebook distributor De Marque announced on Wednesday that it had acquired the assets of Paris-based Feedbooks for 230,000 euros.
De Marque continues its international expansion! The leader in digital cultural content distribution has acquired the assets of Feedbooks, an online bookstore based in France that sells close to 900,000 titles from hundreds of publishing houses.
De Marque’s CEO Marc Boutet is proud to announce that this merger creates the first international group to distribute and market multilingual digital content. “This is an important step in our vision to maintain our international leadership in the fields of e-reading and digital content monetization. The company’s goal is to create an open network of renowned international experts and to be the reference in regards to e-reading and digital media consumption,” said Boutet.
According to Livres Hebdo, Feedbooks had gone bankrupt back in June, and is now being sold off in a fire sale. NetGalley paid 35,000 euros to buy the remaining 50% stake in the broadcast digital press service created in France in partnership with Feedbooks, and De Marque bought the rest of the company for 230,000 euros, and also wrote off a 61-thousand euro debt that Feedbooks owed De Marque.
In addition to Feedbooks, De Marque is also getting Aldiko, the Android app developer that Feedbooks acquired in 2014. That was the best reading app for Android at one time, but to be honest I can’t recall hearing anything about it for the past four years.
All 4 Feedbooks employees will be retained. There’s no mention of the Aldiko developers, which I am hoping is an oversight. That team is about half the value of the company, and if they walked out the door then all their knowledge went with them.
De Marque is a relatively small company; last year, it posted a turnover of 6.4 million CAD, for 1.1 million CAD profit. The company has done many things since it launched in 1990, but its current activities include the ebook retail platform Cantook Hub, which distributes 480,000 ebook titles from more than 2,300 publishers to 1,300 retailers. De Marque also has a corresponding library service, Cantook Station, which is used in over 2,000 libraries across Canada and Europe. (If it helps, you helps, you can think of Cantook as being similar to Baker & Taylor’s Blio and Axis360 platforms.)
It simply boggles the mind that Feedbooks went for under half a million dollars. Their ebook formatting tool alone was worth that much, and so was Aldiko. What’s more, the team that developed Feedbooks had been coming up with interesting stuff for years.
I first heard about Feedbooks in 2009 when its founder, Hadrien Gardeur, was testing a platform to deliver news articles in Mobiocket ebooks. His platform was entirely self-contained and did not require an app. The user could select the news sources they liked, and then download the first set of articles as an ebook. Each update could be downloaded by clicking a link inside the previous ebook.
I don’t think that platform ever went anywhere, but it was still really interesting on a technical level.