Is Facebook about to get into the e-book business?
On Tuesday the social network announced that it was acquiring Push Pop Press, a digital book maker that specializes in interactive books for the Apple iPad and iPhone. The e-books built by the publisher feel like movies; interactive graphics with words sprinkled about cross the page.
Could we expect Facebook to start making and selling e-books on its Web site where it would go head-to-head with Apple, Amazon and Google?
Facebook denies such a claim.Â A press release on the Push Pop Press Web site said, “Although Facebook isn’t planning to start publishing digital books, the ideas and technology behind Push Pop Press will be integrated with Facebook, giving people even richer ways to share their stories.”
That could be a good use of Push Pop. But there is reason for some skepticism. Facebook has made it apparentÂ over the last few years that it is not just a social network, but an entertainment distributor, too.
Facebook has one of the largest gaming platforms in the world, with its hundreds of millions of users playing video games like Zynga’s FarmVille on the site for thousands of hours a month. Earlier this year Facebook also began testing streaming movies on its Web site in a partnership with Warner Brothers.
Facebook’s move into other forms ofÂ entertainment, like gaming and movies, demonstrates that the company is looking at other forms of revenue beyond standard advertising. Of course, it doesn’t need to own a book company to distribute books. It doesn’t own a movie studio or a game maker.
But maybe it is learning something. Facebook has another advantage as an entertainment platform. The company understands customers’ likes and dislikes. Facebook users promote their favorite movies, books and songs in their profile descriptions on the site, and people also regularly update their Facebook status with the latest form of entertainment they have consumed, and how much they liked it. That gives Facebook an advantage over other entertainment purveyors.
There are other theories about the company’s latest acquisition, too. Facebook could have chosen to buy Push Pop Press to swoop up a talented team of designers and programmers.
The Push Pop Press team are highly accomplished engineers. The company was co-founded by Mike Matas, a former Apple employee who worked on user interface projects for Apple software, and Kimon Tsinteris, also a former Apple employeeÂ and software engineer. Facebook said in an e-mail message that some of the companies engineers would be joining Facebook.
Facebook may also need help with its iPhone andÂ iPad strategy, an area Push Pop Press hasÂ clearly demonstrated it understands better than most.Â The first Push Pop Press book, calledÂ Our Choice, is a fully interactive book about the climate crisis that was written by the former vice president Al Gore and designed for the iPhone and iPad.