Recently, bookworms in India were in for a surprise when Google Play launched an app that allowed them to browse through millions of titles. These included new releases, New York Times bestsellers, upcoming authors’ works and free books. And to keep the locals appeased, the e-books are priced in Indian rupees and several titles cost only R100. “The app is compatible with computers, tablets and the average smartphone. This negates the need to keep stocking books in the physical form, which anyway cost more than what you pay these days at the average e-book store,” says 23-year-old marketing executive, Tanuja Karnik.
As the use of smartphones and tablets in India rises, there are experts who believe that the country is on the brink of an e-book explosion. Last year, research for Bowker’s Global e-book Monitor was conducted among the netizens in 10 countries — Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the UK and the US. More than 20% of the respondents from India reported purchasing an e-book in the six months prior to the survey.
And Google is the latest competitor in this fast-growing market that already has a strong presence in the form of Amazon and Apple, as well as publishing houses
like Barnes & Noble and Random House. Penguin India too launched e-books last year, entering the market with 240 Indian titles.
And there are some added incentives to reading on your smartphones or tablets as well.
“You could read one page at a time, or turn your device on its side and view two pages at once, tap to read everything full screen, or read in white-on-black night-time mode, and even change their text size and fonts. You could also share interesting quotes on Facebook or Twitter or flick through a photo gallery, rotate a 3D object and watch animations spring to life or listen to music,” says Rishi Jha, 29, who is a lawyer.
Get them here
Kindle store: You could invest in a Kindle reader or just get the app which is compatible with Android and iOS phones. While evergreen classics like Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice are available for free in the store itself, there is also a separate section dedicated to best-selling books and even author Chetan Bhagat’s works. But the best news is the introduction of a section dedicated to books worth R100 or less.
Barnes & Noble: It offers a wide selection of titles, and at very competitive prices. However, it is the book-sharing option, in which specially marked e-books can be shared with family and friends, not available with comparable sites, that makes the Barnes & Noble eBooks Store a favourite.
Sony Reader Store: This rather well-organised website offers a wide selection of books that should satisfy most mainstream readers. E-newspaper subscription is available as well. However, the cost of books available here is on the steeper side.
Random House e-books: This e-book store offers a nice range of respected publications, but with a small glitch: the cost of the digital books is the same as their physical counterparts. However, it is one of the few stores that allows users to read sample chapters before deciding if they want to purchase the book or not.
Cambridge eBookstore: It provides a wide range of academic subject listings. Catering to professionals, it provides research and journal articles, books, audio books and educational CD-ROMs. Though it is unlikely that you will get your hands on a Harry Potter or the latest John Grisham novel here, it does provide a range of topics for academic work.