The book publishing, distributing and selling industry is on the cusp of a technological revolution. A revolution where e-books — books that can be read on electronic readers —will transform the reading experience.
An e-reader is a device with a screen which helps you read a book, dog-ear a page, create bookmarks and manipulate the font and the page size.
It is easy, convenient and hip. What it doesn’t promise you is the experience of reading a book.
E-books in the Indian market are still at a nascent, awkward stage, where innovative marketing is being explored.
In the west, Amazon’s Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the latest addition to this list, Apple’s iPad, are revolutionising the way books can be sold to the world.
However, India isn’t too far behind. Two e-readers with the desi market in mind are about to be launched.
Pi, offered by Infibeam.com is launching this month. Also, EC Media from Kerala-based publishing house DC Books, will come to a book store near you in May.
In EC Media, the reader will have wireless Internet capability, allowing users to download e-books from EC Media’s online repository and subscribe to digital newspapers and magazines.
Unlike EC Media, the Pi doesn’t have Net access. Users will have to download e-books from Infibeam’s site or other content providers and transfer them to the reader using a cable. While the Pi has a pre-order price of Rs 10,000, EC Media is priced in the range of Rs 8,000 and Rs 18,000. Both are priced keeping Kindle, priced at $400 (Rs 18,692) and the iPad at $500 (Rs 23,365) in mind.
Infibeam say they have more than 1,00,000 book titles in their store. EC Media has more than 7,00,000.
Prakash Books India, one of India’s largest publishers, is setting up a site that will host a million e-book titles.
“There’s a certain pleasure in buying books in a store that I don’t find online,” says Omair Ahmad, author and recent owner of the Kindle.
“However, I find reading e-books convenient when I am travelling or when I am short of time.”