In early 2013 a unique alliance was formed in the German e-book market: under the brand of tolino, the largest German book retailers (Hugendubel, Thalia, Weltbild, Der Club) together with Deutsche Telekom AG (DTAG) as technology and innovation partner joined forces by entering into an alliance for digital reading. Soon more and more booksellers inside and outside the country joined the tolino alliance, firmly positioned amongst the top global e-reading ecosystems.
The tolino alliance and its benefits
Before the alliance was established, most German booksellers had their own e-reading solutions but the required investment in IT, hardware and know-how made it difficult to cope with Amazon’s competition. tolino represents an investment that a single bookseller would not be able to afford. Now all book retailers involved in the tolino alliance run their own shops on the tolino branded devices. This is possible due to the white label ecosystem, which allows booksellers to offer full-scale e-reading solutions in their own name. Hence, booksellers can focus on marketing, sales and their webshop, whereas the DTAG provides the technology, hardware and apps for the tolino product family. The roadmap of tolino as well as the features of Apps and Clients are defined in tight cooperation among DTAG and the booksellers.
Milestones of the tolino roll out
Since the start of the alliance, several different e-readers and tablets have been launched. tolino expanded to Austria, Switzerland and Belgium. Italy and the Netherlands followed. In fall 2014 Germany’s largest book wholesaler Libri joined the alliance.
In the spring of this year tolino started its own self-publishing platform which keeps enriching the e-book catalogue significantly. Just recently it was announced that the German book retail chain Osiander (34 POS) and Mayersche (40 POS) will become partners of the tolino alliance, making it stronger than ever. In the near future, the tolino alliance is planning to continue its expansion as well as entering new partnerships and developing new devices.
Strong partners, strong brands
The tolino ecosystem for digital reading provides all aspects of a state of the art solution: devices, book retailer webshops, content, apps and clients are interlinked with each other and the customer due to the DTAG cloud. The tolino cloud service enables the cross-device availability of eBooks, the synchronization of last-read positions, bookmarks and notes. Users can also upload own content into their library via the cloud.
The tolino alliance is a great success story: today it is present in 6 countries with about 20 different bookselling brands and with a growing e-book catalogue of currently about 1.8 million titles from about 300 international publishers and aggregators. The alliance is offering international partners to introduce the successful tolino model in their own markets. Currently, tolino is sold at more than 1.800 stores; the positive brand awareness is constantly growing. Since summer 2014 the e-book sales of tolino are outperforming the Amazon e-book sales. Nearly every second e-book sold in Germany is a tolino e-book.
Tolino at Hugendubel: integrated in its multi-channel approach
Hugendubel is a good example of a bookseller that has integrated tolino in its multi-channel concept. The concept is based on the following four sales channels: a profitable and strongly increasing online business, a competitive e-book solution (tolino), stores in nationwide top locations (90 stores in 57 cities) and an integrated B2B business with multifaceted growth directions.
The interacion of the four channels create one brand experience for the customer: the online business for example benefits from local presence and brand of the stores, whereas the online business in return works as an additional infrastructure which ties customers closer to Hugendubel and brings them back into the stores. The in-store presentation of tolino and www.hugendubel.de as well as the extensive tolino guidance of store employees help to integrate the tolino digital reading solution into the existing physical business. The interaction of the four channels protects Hugendubel’s physical business and enables sustainable growth of the digital business.