Franklin Electronic Publishers, digital publisher and manufacturer of the eBookMan handheld reading device, has taken an undisclosed equity stake in MobiPocket, a French software company offering the MobiPocket Reader. Franklin has also licensed some of its technology to MobiPocket.
Franklin's investment in MobiPocket brings the two firms into a closer working relationship. This summer Franklin licensed the MobiPocket Reader (News, July 9), which will operate on any PDA operating system, and began bundling it with every eBookMan device. Since Microsoft Reader does not yet run on the eBookMan, which also has its own e-book format, Franklin is looking for ways to provide more content for its device. The MobiPocket gives eBookMan owners access to nearly 1,200 e-book titles in English and even more in many foreign languages. Barry J. Lipsky, Franklin president and CEO, said two companies have already been working together. "We expect to do more. We don't want a partner that's a competitor." Lipsky noted that in addition to Franklin's reference content and proprietary search features, MobiPocket was interested in "dynamic data, Web-based content like AvantGo. There's 20 million handhelds out there that publishers want to access. MobiPocket doesn't have the infrastructure to reach U.S. publishers. This just aligns our interests."