Book your Indian Flyte
By Adarsh Matham
27th January 2013 12:00 AM
Since I got an e-book reader and a Tablet two years ago, I often used this column to praise of e-books. All this while my biggest problem was that I was getting my e-books from Amazon. Which meant I had to pay in dollars, and many of the books that are published only in India are not available on Amazon. This was truly getting on my nerves and I was waiting for some Indian company to come up with an e-book store. And they did.
Unsurprisingly it is India’s biggest online retailer, Flipkart.com which took the plunge. By launching Flyte, their digital book store with a collection of more than 100,000 books, Flipkart is trying to bring e-books, both Indian and international to the Indian readers at affordable prices in Indian rupees. Flipkart launched an Android app, using which you can instantly download and read e-books on smartphones or Tablet. The app comes with all the usual features that you see in an e-book app. One can get a free sample, read the same book on six different devices between which the reading location is automatically synced, and the ability to easily add notes, highlight text, search and add multiple bookmarks.
Sameer Nigam, the Vice-President of Digital Services at Flipkart is buoyant about the success of the e-book store, which he says already saw, “25,000 users and 50,000 e-book downloads,” in the few months since launch. Riding on this success, Flipkart expects that in the next two to three years, e-book sales will be 30 to 40 per cent of physical book sales. With that ambition, Flipkart wants to make digital content a mainstream trend in India. Sameer is not worried about piracy. He is confident that because the books have Digital Rights Management technology which lets them to be read only on the Android app, and because the company believes ‘that there is a market for legal digital content in India’, and because it rightly thinks that given a chance to pay a fair price in an easy manner, Indians will buy digital content, piracy will not be a problem.
Obviously, this is the just the beginning of the e-book market in India. When I tried to buy an e-book of Salman Rushdie’s latest book on the Flyte store, it was showing me a price of `1441 (since changed to `432). It would be a great idea to get that e-book in a minute, except for the fact that if I ordered a hardback of the same book from Flipkart itself, it would be delivered to my door step for `463. When I asked Sameer about this, he explained that they are trying to price e-books at least 20 to 30 per cent less than paperback prices, and the example I pointed out is owing to the issues with international e-books. He assured we will soon see India-specific price points.
If I were to believe Sameer, the next few months are going to be exciting for Indians wanting e-books as Flipkart is promising to bring Flyte to other platforms like iOS and Windows Phone.
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