September 7, 2012, 4:34 PM

Tesco buys a digital books company

The deal for Mobcast gives Tesco a presence in digital books, music and video.

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As a mass merchandise retailer online and off, Tesco PLC likes to keep its corporate finger in a lot of pies, including digital book sales.

Tesco, No. 3 in the 2012 Internet Retailer Top 400 Europe, has acquired Mobcast, an electronic book platform provider, for an undisclosed amount. Mobcast, which develops and markets technology to download a library of more than 130,000 digital book titles to a wide variety of computers and mobile devices, was acquired by Tesco in order to diversify Tesco’s electronic entertainment business, says digital entertainment CEO Michael Comish.

The acquisition of Mobcast is Tesco’s second purchase in recent months. In June Tesco, one of the biggest mass merchants in the United Kingdom and Europe, acquired WE7, a U.K. Internet radio service with a library of more than 11 million tracks. Tesco acquired WE7 in a deal valued at about $417.2 million. “We want our customers to have the widest choice in digital entertainment,” says Comish. “We are already one of the U.K.’s largest booksellers and Mobcast will help us offer even more choice for the large and growing number of customers who want to buy and enjoy books on their digital devices whenever and wherever they want.”

Tesco has been purchasing other digital entertainment companies and technology to enhance a new digital entertainment strategy that now includes books, movies and music. In December and for an unknown sum, Tesco acquired 80% of Blinkbox, a U.K. movie streaming service with a library of more than 9,000 movies and TV shows and a base of more than 2 million visitors per month. Blinkbox offers paid and some free downloadable content.

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