Kobo’s owner Rakuten has made another technology play by taking over the Shelfie ebook platform.
The Shelfie service actually shut down in January this year at short notice. The company started as an operation called BitLit in 2013 before becoming Shelfie. Its aim was to get people to take a photo of their print books (a ‘Shelfie’) and upload the pictures to get offered ebook versions of the print books they already own.
The Kobo deal for Shelfie includes technology assets, intellectual property and the platform infrastructure plus Shelfie’s team, which specializes in the application of big data and machine-learning for book discovery.
When Shelfie closed, Kobo worked with the firm to offer its customers to transfer their ebooks to Kobo’s platform.
Kobo says it will be integrating the Shelfie platform into its Android and iOS apps, enabling readers to add their print libraries to their reading history to generate tailored ebook recommendations, as well as the option to get digital versions of print titles they already own.
Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn says, “People who come to Kobo already have a history of reading in print that we don’t want to ignore. This acquisition will allow us to expand our ecosystem by incorporating Shelfie’s innovative advances in book recommendation, discovery and bundling, which is especially interesting considering our large network of bricks-and-mortar bookselling partners.”
Shelfie CEO Peter Hudson says, “We’re proud of what we’ve built, and in Kobo, have found the perfect platform to expand on what Shelfie has to offer, on a global scale. Finding the next book to read is a challenge that resonates with many booklovers, who increasingly are looking to personal recommendations as opposed to algorithm-based suggestions. With Shelfie’s technology, avid readers will easily be able to find the next must-read book.”
Kobo has become the go-to guy for companies which have been quitting the ebook sector as it’s taken over the ebook businesses of Flipkart, Waterstones and Sainsbury’s over the last year or so.
It has boosted its technology capability in recent times with the acquisition of leading library ebook supplier OverDrive, it has also taken over providing the technology platform for Tolino, which is the leading ebook marketplace in Germany and owned by a consortium of booksellers and publishers.
Its most recent move involved setting up its first ebook subscription service, KoboPlus, in the Netherlands and Belgium.