Retail chain Landmark to launch e-book reader application [Aims at bigger e-commerce play]

Tata group owned retail chain Landmark is launching an e-book reader application for Android users in less than two weeks from now, a top company official told Pi in an interview. The company is also gearing up for big e-commerce play, adding categories and selling existing offline merchandise on their website.

“The next step is to launch our own reading applications. The app will also be enabled for buying,”Arun Naikar who heads business development for the retailers e-commerce arm said.

Earlier this month, after Amazon launched its e-book store and Kindle reader in India, Landmark launched e-books on landmarkonthenet, its online store.

Landmark is adopting a wait and watch approach to launching Kindle like reading device. “The way the digital market is going, the offering has to be device agnostic. You can’t tie a customer to a device lifelong,” he added.

Earlier, we did a poll to understand the behavior of Indian buyers when it comes to e-books and a majority of respondents said that they will buy e-books if they were significantly cheaper than physical books.

“The market is nascent. Buyers will first look at free downloads and then start buying e-books. Just like an amateur reader evolves into a mature reader,” says Naikar.

Going by the company’s present stance, it does not seem to have any plans to offer direct self publishing channels to indie-authors. Naikar believes that there will be 3-4 players in the market just like the developed world.

E-commerce push, adding categories

“We  want to be the largest in the online space and the investments we make will be at that scale,” said Naikar. Landmark’s online store already sells books, e-books, mobiles, cameras, games, music, movies, toys and gift cards. The company is planning to add two new categories – Laptops and Computers, in a months time.

Landmark’s online store has been around for nearly 10 years, however, in December last year, the company got serious about the business and relaunched its site. “We are already looking beyond books,” says Naikar adding that the company has nearly 10 million titles on the online store already. While Naikar did not disclose details of the site’s traction, he said that business has grown 4-5 times in size since the re-launch.

The brick and mortar retailer founded in 1987 to sell books and music became part of Trent, the Tata company that owns the Westside retail chain in 2005. Currently, Landmark has 13 standalone stores in India besides seven hotel bookstores and five airports stores.

» Recommended Read: Analysis: What will make ebooks tick in the Indian market:

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