Paying just 230,000 euros (US$ 254,000) for the assets of the collapsed ebook store Feedbooks, the Canadian digital distributor De Marque has at a stroke just added 900,00 titles to its catalogue.
There’s more to this story than at first meets the eye, so let me start with, at some length, the upbeat press release from Quebec City, in which De Marque explained,
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.
With this acquisition, De Marque adds an established online bookstore to its diverse offering of digital services for the publishing world. The combined Feedbooks and De Marque catalogues will represent 1.4 million multilingual ebooks and audiobooks available in numerous countries with merchandising and support services in five languages.
De Marque’s current publishing clients will obtain new sales opportunities, whereas libraries with access to its e-lending service will gain access to a wider variety of content for their users. The US library market will be more accessible as Feedbooks currently supplies content to a large number of major US libraries through its partnership with the Digital Public Library of America. In this context, De Marque also adds the mobile e-reading application Aldiko to its product portfolio. Aldiko is used by nearly two million people worldwide on iOS and Android.
There’s more. In this “merger” no jobs have been lost and lost and in fact a long-standing relationship is strengthened by the deal.
Through the acquisition of Feedbooks’ assets, a subsidiary is created in which all Feedbooks employees join the De Marque team. Feedbooks co-founder Hadrien Gardeur joins the company as director of research and development. “Our relationship with Feedbooks is not new,” said Marc Boutet. “For over five years, our two companies developed many synergies together by investing in new flexible DRM (LCP) as well as in ebooks and audiobooks. We also both positioned ourselves as leaders within the Readium Foundation and the European organization EDRlab.” Loïc Roussel, co-founder of Feedbooks, added: “This is a natural and beneficial progression for Feedbooks. We are delighted that our project can keep going forward at a new speed.”
The press release, reminding us that De Marque, with 77 employees across offices in Quebec, Montreal, Paris and Barcelona, previously acquired Barcelona-based Libranda in July 2018.
It might also have added De Marque acquired the digital lending library service MaBiblioNumerique.ca from Groupe Archambault in January of this year.
Prior to the Feedbooks deal De Marque fielded 480,000 titles through its Cantook Hub and that its library arm Cantook Station, which supports 2,000 libraries in Canada and Europe, has since 2012 clocked over 8.6 million ebook checkouts from library users.
What the press release doesn’t dwell on is that Feedbooks had been in receivership since June 2018 and the merger is the result of a Commercial Court settlement whereby De Marque paid 230,000 euros to acquire the assets of Feedbooks and its subsidiary Aldiko as part of a disposal plan.
Feedbooks, says Livres Hebdo,
had accumulated a lot of debt and had lost nearly half of its turnover in its last three years.
In receivership since last June, feedbooks and its subsidiary Aldiko have been bought by De Marque as part of a disposal plan, which including writing off a 62,000 euro claim De Marque held against Feedbooks.
Livres Hebdo further reports the US company NetGalley,
for 35,000 euros … takes over the 50% stake in the joint subsidiary of a broadcast digital press service created in France with Feedbooks.
Noting De Marque last year had a turnover of 6.4 million Canadian dollars (4.3 million euros), for 1.1 million Canadian dollars (0.76 million euros) profit, Livres Hebdo adds that rival operators Numilog and TEA had both been interested in acquiring the Feedbooks assets.