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Kindling the e-book revolution

books Updated: Oct 28, 2009 18:04 IST
Girija Duggal
Girija Duggal
Hindustan Times
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Indian publishing took a major leap into the virtual world last week as Mantras: The Sacred Chants, a book by Swami Veda Bharati, made its e-book debut on Kindle. Published by Delhi-based publishing house Wisdom Tree, it has become the first Indian book to be made available for download on online retailer Amazon.com’s popular e-book reader.

And the response has been “absolutely amazing”, says Wisdom Tree’s Shobit Arya. “We sold the first Kindle version of Mantra…within hours of it being available online and sold eight copies within the first three days,” he reveals. Another bestseller by the same publishing house — Yogini: Unfolding the Goddess Within by Shambhavi Chopra — was launched soon after. Thirteen other titles are also in the pipeline.

So what inspired Wisdom Tree to venture into the as-yet uncharted e-book domain? “The distribution of content is the real kingmaker, especially in the book trade…and ultimately, you can’t beat technology. The sooner we accept it and adapt ourselves to the changing scenario, the better it is,” says Arya.

While Kindle’s international version, Kindle 2, began shipping to India on October 19 (it costs $259), the publisher doesn’t expect significant downloads by Indian readers just yet. “A paperback priced at $3 in India would cost almost $8-9 in the US. So it’s not a very lucrative proposition for the Indian reader. But this will change as Kindle becomes more popular here. There’s no way this won’t happen in the next few months,” he says.

Once it does, an Indian e-book revolution will just be a matter of time.