HomeShop18 logoThis is very surprising: Homeshop18, the Network18 backed online and TV commerce venture, has stopped selling books online, MediaNama has learned via an Anonymous Tip Off.

A notice published on Homeshop18’s website (screenshot below) offers no reason for stopping the sale of books, only informs customers that books are no longer available on Homeshop18, and customers who have ordered books will be delivered those books. Books are believed to be among the higher margin categories for e-commerce.

homeshop18-books

We’ve contacted Sundeep Malhotra, CEO of Homeshop18 for a comment, and should have more on this by the evening. Narasimha Jayakumar, COO of Homeshop18, was unavailable for comment at the time of filing this report. We’ll update when we have more information.

Quick take

– Globally, this is a category dominated by Amazon, and it hasn’t exactly been playing nice with publishers and authors (read this and this). In India, the playing field is much wider, with Flipkart, Infibeam and others still competing. The pulling out of a competitor in this battle, leads to a reduction in competition, and the concentration of power in the hands of fewer online retailers. That cannot be good for publishers.

We’re not saying that Amazon should lose, but that the battle should continue: a competitive environment ensures that book publishers have lower dependency on a single retailer and their business remains sustainable, and consumers get diversity in content at affordable prices. Lowering of competition helps no one, except those playing a last-man-standing game.

Read: Is The Indian Publishing Industry Feeling Threatened by e-books & Flipkart?

– For Homeshop18, which, until earlier this year, was planning an IPO, shutting down a category doesn’t augur well. While the company did tell us that it still plans to go in for an IPO, we haven’t heard about the company’s plans for a while, after Reliance Industries acquired Network18.

Read: HomeShop18 Applies For $75 Million IPO; FY13 Revenue $40.7M, $167M GMV, $22.5M Loss