Textunes Moves Beyond “Classic E-Books,” Combines Crime Novels with Language Learning

In Digital by Siobhan O'Leary

By Siobhan O’Leary

BERLIN: Last month, Germany’s textunes released its first ever bundled book, comprising both a print and an e-book: Tor Arge Brinsvaard’s Die Frau die allein ein ganzer Tisch war [The Woman Who Was a Whole Table]. A code inside the printed book, published by ONKEL & ONKEL, allows readers to unlock a free iPhone or iPad e-book. This is just one of the ways textunes is collaborating with publishers to encourage a more multi-platform reading experience for their customers.

Textunes works with publishers to convert books to standard e-books in ePub format, but its real strength lies in optimizing them for smartphones and providing an added value interactive experience for readers. It also offers publishers tools to market their e-books to a mobile audience, from reading samples to social media sharing functions. Readers can purchase books on one platform and later transfer their content to another one — a feature that will be particularly useful as textunes expands its reach to new platforms. The full textunes product line was offered on the iPad from day one in Germany, May 28th, and will be available for the Android platform in the next three months.


As publishers face the challenge of identifying and creating an e-reading experience that meets or exceeds readers’ expectations, CEO and co-founder Simon Seeger has seen one clear trend develop in recent months: a growing interest in e-books with enriched and interactive content. “In our numbers we clearly see a trend for anything that is more than a ‘classic’ e-book.”

For example, the customized app created for the cult comic series Mosaik – Die Abrafaxe, was designed to combine the illustrations from the book with transitional effects and an audio component. The first episode was offered as a free download and subsequent episodes were available for 1.59 Euros each. The series was downloaded more than 30,000 times in the first two months it was available, according to Seeger.

Another popular project called the LernKrimi (developed with Cornelsen and available in English and German) combines a crime novel narrative with interactive language instruction features, including synchronized audio and integrated exercises and games.

To date, textunes has sold roughly 90,000 e-books, most of them in the last nine months. And now textunes is making a concerted effort to expand into the English-language market (its current client base includes over 50 German publishers, among them Random House, Hoffmann und Campe, Kiepenheuer & Witsch and Rowohlt).

DISCUSS: What Other Kinds of E-book “Interactivity” Can You Imagine?

CONTACT: Simon Seeger for more information

About the Author

Siobhan O'Leary

Siobhan O’Leary is a literary agent, translator and writer based in Berlin. She previously worked in the Foreign Rights department of the Crown Publishing Group (Random House) and at the publishing consulting firm Market Partners International.