The opportunity in Indian ebook market has been attracting attention from big players such as Google and Amazon. Indian companies like Tata owned Croma, Landmark and Flipkart’s Flyte have also been selling ebooks to the Indian consumer. Recently, Google launched ebooks to its Play Store for Indian users while Amazon launched Kindle store and Kindle direct publishing in India last year.
The latest to enter the space is SwiftBoox – which offers e-reading service across all devices such as dedicated eReaders, smartphone and laptop or PC. The startup has free and paid download options spanning across genres like fiction, biography, history and others.
SwiftBoox, which recently came out of closed beta, does not offer volume or catalog as compared to Flipkart’s Flyte and Amazon, but has some good collection in vernacular language like Bengali. Unlike Flyte, all SwiftBoox e-books are not in proprietary format and it depends on security settings that may prevent printing and copying of some titles.
User can login to SwiftBoox platform using their Facebook, Google and Twitter accounts. Besides free content, SwiftBoox offers pricing in USDs. “Since we have launched very recently and didn’t start marketing yet there is very less traffic and sales. Other than paid DRM content, we are also offering free ebooks which are available in the public domain,” said Shantanu Chowdhury , co-founder, SwiftBoox.
SwiftBoox’s platform seamlessly supports both India and rest of the world for Indian publishers to sell their titles with differential pricing hence hedging the risk by targeting global and indigenous reader. The startup founded by Santanu Chowdhury and Surojit Saha charges 30% commission and remaining 70% goes to publisher.
“Publishers always insists on DRM and they feel comfortable when they know that their books will be protected by DRM,” added Chowdhary. Since the startup follows the open standard that is Adobe DRM which is widely used, publishers feel more secure. The company tied up with a third party to implement Adobe DRM to its catalog.
The self funded venture plans to add more vernacular content with superior reading experience via using its own proprietary technology, and aims to launch mobile reader apps focused on Indian population.
From our web poll some seven months ago, it appears that ebooks will take a lot of time to start making the kind of money physical books make. Nearly 35 % of the people who participated in the poll on ebooks in India, said that they’d buy one if there is a steep discount. Nearly half of them said that they prefer a physical copy.