Livemocha CEO Michael Schutzler hasn’t been shy about taking some shots at rival Rosetta Stone over the years. Last year, for example, the Seattle Internet executive declared that Rosetta Stone would have a “long mountain to climb” in order to compete with Livemocha in online language learning.
But there’s one spot where Rosetta Stone has always held an advantage: Retail. The company’s yellow-boxed CD-ROM titles are ubiquitous at retail locations in malls and airports.
But Livemocha, which has raised about $14 million from August Capital and Maveron, is now looking to toss some stones of its own into that territory.
Through a partnership with Harper Collins and Merriam Webster, Livemocha has begun selling language learning course books at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.com.
Schutzler tells GeekWire that they started testing the new titles, which integrate with Livemocha’s online learning community, in June. So far, he said sales are going very well.
“(The) bulk of Rosetta Stone’s sales that generate actual margin are in retail. Berlitz has been there for decades,” said Schutzler. “Our partners are Merriam Webster … and therefore we think we have a shot at winning in this arena as well.”
Schutzler says the books are “beautifully crafted” and come with a code for a six-month free subscription to Livemocha’s premium language service. At this point, the company is selling books for Spanish, French, German and Italian.
Founded in 2007 by Seattle entrepreneur Shirish Nadkarni, Livemocha now boasts 12 million members in its online community.