Wellington ebook startup bought by US rival

Last updated 05:00 30/11/2009

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Wellington online publishing start-up Bookhabit has been snapped up by Silicon Valley's Smashwords for an undisclosed sum.

Bookhabit launched in early 2008, allowing independent authors to publish their work online for free and readers to sample first chapters before deciding whether to buy.

Co-founder Clare Tanner says Smashwords operates a similar model, allowing people to read a preview of the work before deciding to spend, and can distribute authors' books through online ebook retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Shortcovers.

Smashwords' bid came at the right time for the firm, which was looking to offer ebooks in different formats and set up strategic partnerships with retailers.

"To get to that next stage would have required a lot more investment. We would have had to be a lot more aggressive about being in the United States, which is hard to do from here," Ms Tanner says.

The 340 authors who have signed with Bookhabit can choose whether or not they migrate their 600-odd books to Smashwords' platform.

"Some people have said they won't but most are really happy about it. They can see it will be good for them," she says.

Wellington web development firm Webfund has a 25 per cent stake in Bookhabit, which has one fulltime staff member.

Smashwords founder Mark Coker said the acquisition boosted its international base of authors, ebooks and customers.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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