ContentShift, the accelerator for startups launced by Boersenverein and dedicated to fostering innovation in the content industry, has named Papego its startup of the year during the 2016 edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Aldus takes this occasion to get to know its potentialities by re-publishing this innovative business case recently featured on the TISP Smartbook .

Papego is a free app that allows readers to continue reading their printed books on a smartphone or tablet, e.g. on their way to work, so they don’t have to carry the book with them. They just “scan” (photograph) the page last read with the app, and then get an excerpt (25%) of the book in digital form, which is downloaded to the device so they can read in the app, even without an online connection. Page numbers of the printed book are displayed in the app, so it is easy to return to print at any time.

Papego was launched at Leipzig Book Fair 2016, has won the “Neuland 2.0” visitor’s choice-award and is a finalist in the ContentShift accelerator program initiated by Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels. Currently there are about 40 titles available wich are “Papego-ready”.



Business Needs

Market research shows that nearly 50% of German book buyers read both printed books and e-books. By enhancing the printed book with digital reading capability, Papego frees them from the need to choose between the two formats. This adds real value to the printed books and strengthens the traditional book stores, many of which are threatened by digital reading. In turn, it also strengthens publishers against monopolistic structures in the digital reading markets and reduces the negative effect of the rapid decline of e-book prices.


Papego is a fantastic marketing tool. Unlike other marketing measures, it adds real value to the book and helps readers make a buying decision when inside the store.

Even better, booksellers love Papego, because it strengthens the printed book in the digital transformation and helps them sell more, so they will recommend Papego books more often than others and tend to display them more prominently.

Papego is free for users and is financed by publishers, who pay a fee per Papego-ready title. For readers, this technology is an easy way to switch between print and mobile reading, making a definite choice between the two versions unnecessary.

The role of technology

Papego consists of an app and a server. The app uploads the “scan” (photograph) of the book page to the server, which analyzes it using OCR software and compares it with a database of Papego-ready books. The book is identified and an excerpt of 25% of the book, beginning with the page scanned, is sent back. It can only be read in the app and can’t be distributed. Readers can scan a certain book as often as they want, but each time the previously downloaded excerpt of the same book is overwritten, so there are always only 25% of the book in the app. In this way, it is possible to read the whole book digitally, but it is not possible to walk into a book store, scan four pages of the book, and walk out with the whole e-book. Therefore, we consider Papego fairly safe against illegal use. To use Papego, the reader only needs to download it – no registration necessary. The Papego app is available for free for Apple iOS and Android.



First usage data, as well as online feedback in blogs and social media, indicates that Papego is very well received by readers. On average, about 3% of book buyers download the app and use it. However, this varies widely among book genres: For instance, fantasy and fomance novels receive high usage rates of up to 10%, while classic crime/mystery novels, which target older audiences,  are scanned less often with Papego. At this point, four major German publishers – Piper Verlag, Aufbau Verlag, DuMont and Kiepenheuer & Witsch – have already published or announced Papego Titles. More will follow soon.


This business case originally appeared on the TISP Smartbook on September 21 2016.