Kobo Acquires Shelfie, Which Helps Customers Get Free Digital Copies of Print Books They Own

Rakuten Kobo has acquired Shelfie, a service built to help customers get free and discounted ebook versions of books in their print libraries.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but we do know that the deal includes technology assets, IP, and the infrastructure on which the ecosystem runs; it also includes bringing Shelfie’s team on board.

Shelfie ceased operations in January. Over the coming months, Kobo will work to integrate the Shelfie platform into its Android and iOS apps.

“We know our best customers move fluidly between formats, reading digitally and in print, and we welcome this opportunity to bring their entire reading life together,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO, Rakuten Kobo. “People who come to Kobo already have a history of reading in print that we don’t want to ignore.”

Founded in 2013 by Peter Hudson and Marius Muja as BitLit Media, Shelfie grew to offer more than 450,000 ebooks and audiobook. Users snapped a photo of their bookshelf, and through patented technology, Shelfie scanned the spines of every book to identify titles and give readers a complete inventory of their collection, and served them the available equivalent titles in digital.

“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,” said Hudson. “With Shelfie’s technology, avid readers will easily be able to find the next must-read book.”

“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,” Tamblyn added.

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