Lexcycle Acquired by Amazon

Lexcycle, the company who created the Stanza book reading software for the iPhone, has been acquired by Amazon.com.

Stanza allows users to browse a library of around 100,000 books and periodicals for the iPhone, many of them in the ePub format — a widely accepted standard for e-books that Amazon has yet to support with its proprietary Kindle platform.

In its blog post, Lexcycle said, “We are not planning any changes in the Stanza application or user experience as a result of the acquisition. Customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read ebooks from our many content partners.”

It is not clear how much Amazon is paying for the year-old company with offices in Austin and Portland. But the move indicates Amazon wants to consolidate its position on mobile devices, particularly within Apple’s ecosystem, which may include a tablet computer later this year. The Lexcycle team should also help Amazon stake out ground on Google’s Android phones, the Palm Pre and Windows Mobile devices — and perhaps eventually turn to more open e-reading formats.

“It’s very early days for e-books, and we believe there is a lot of innovation ahead of us,” said Cinthia Portugal, a spokeswoman for Amazon.com. “Lexcycle is a smart, innovative company. and we look forward to working with them to innovate on behalf of readers.” (NYT)

eBook sales last year were about 1.5% of all sales, so there’s lots of room to grow. Amazon has a huge stake in the business with its Kindle eBook reader and sales of Kindle compatible eBooks. The question now is, will Stanza continue as a product or will Amazon throw it away and steer Stanza users towards its iPhone Kindle app? Amazon needs customer names, they don’t need a second iPhone app.

Congrats to the guys at Lexcycle. Just last week I listened to Neelan Choksi at the London Book Fair. No wonder he had a perma-smile on his face! 🙂

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