Update: In conversation with MediaNama, Vishal Mehta, CEO of Infibeam said that the digitization services being being offered by Infibeam are available as both free and paid services: the free digitization service will involve Infibeam getting exclusive online and physical distribution rights of the books, which will be sold on a revenue share basis; he declined to specify the revenue share, saying only that upwards of 50 percent will go to the publisher or author. Infibeam has created Optical Character Recognition software for all 22 official languages in India: “They’re not perfect, and it’s hard to get above 95% accuracy on scanning, depending on the print quality.” Thus, they need manual intervention for checking and correction. He believes that the demand for digitization for textbooks will be greater. For the digitization into ebook format, they will target local publishing houses, and expand it to magazines and journals as well.
Infibeam has over 100,000 ebooks, but of its overall sales, ebooks are in the single-digit-percentages, but the advantage, Mehta says, is that ebooks help reduce the print cycle and time to market, with the current time to market for a manuscript being close to 1.5 years. The pricing of the ebooks will be consistent with print. In terms of rights management of the ebooks, they can narrow it down to the country level, based on the country in which the credit card used for purchase has been issued. Distribution of physical books in India is according to zones (North, South, East and West), and it is difficult to replicate that model online.
Earlier: Online Books retailer Infibeam has launched digitization services, allowing authors to digitize their content for publishing as e-Books. The digital platform consists of an automated setup, capable of providing books in pdf, epub and mobi formats. Content delivery and usage will be restricted to authorized buyers through digital rights management (DRM). The digital books will initially be sold through Infibeam.com’s eBooks store, and it will also act as a digital distribution channel for other websites, as well as print on demand functionality.
The Digitization process, according to Infibeam’s website, involves three steps: scanning of the content, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), followed by a manual check and correction, which would be rather tedious. Once the digitization is complete, the books are encrypted to provide authors control over distribution.
We’re requested Infibeam for a word on what they’re going to charge for digitization services, among other things, but I assume this investment in digitization is keeping in mind a potential shift in usage in India and globally away from “paperbacks” and “hard-bounds”, particularly given the launch of the iPad. Infibeam has its own ebooks reader called Pi; however, Infibeam is a books retailer, not a devices company like Apple, for whom the whole idea behind making books and music available is to sell the iPod and iPad. So the digitization businesses will probably serve multiple purposes for Infibeam:
— Add books to its ebooks store, which it claims has a selection of 100,000 ebooks in its online store
— More ebooks means more reasons to buy an ebooks reader like the Pi
— Indibeam could also become the digital distributor for ebooks to other devices and online bookstores targeting international markets.
— Infibeam Launches eBook Reader “Pi”