Amazon has acquired the publishing arm of Westland Ltd for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will let Westland authors expand their physical and digital book businesses in India and globally. Westland is owned by Trent Limited, a Tata company, which operates clothing retail Westside, hypermarket Star Bazaar and Landmark, the book stores.
In February this year, Westland had raised about Rs 9.5 crore from Amazon for a 26% stake in the company. Westland would expand its international reach and scale its physical and digital book business, it had said then.
Westland houses other publications Tranquebar and EastWest and authors like Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Rashmi Bansal, Rujuta Diwekar, Preeti Shenoy, Devdutt Pattanaik and Christopher C Doyle under it. It claims to have a history of over 50 years in retail, distribution and publishing and is headed by CEO Gautam Padmanabhan.
In August, Amazon India launched a used books, offering over 100,000 titles. At the time, Amazon claimed to have 9,400 sellers on the platform. Note that Amazon’s other marketplace Junglee also sells used books among other items.
In July 2015, Westland took Flipkart to the Delhi High Court alleging that Flipkart was violating copyrights and the IT Act by selling Amish Tripathi’s novel Scion of Ikshvaku on its platform. Westland claimed that it signed a 2 month exclusive deal with Amazon to sell the book via Amazon. The Delhi High Court heard the matter and has asked Flipkart to respond by 4 August then, and there has not been an update on the matter since. However, Flipkart still lists Westland Store on its platform and appears to be selling books from Amish Tripathi.
Kindle in India
Amazon launched the Kindle Store and Kindle Direct Publishing for independent authors and publishers in India in 2012. In September last year, Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service which would give readers access to over 1 million books for a limited period. In the same month, the company extended its Kindle Scout programme under Kindle Press, the company’s digital publishing banner to India, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Japan. The following month, Rupa Publications, one of India’s major book publishing houses, signed up for Kindle Unlimited.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s rival in India Flipkart exited its ebooks business in September last year.