Penguin Books India has launched its first trache of eBooks, consisting of a collection of 240 titles, including all new books published in 2012, and select best sellers from its catalog. By the end of this year, it expects to have the largest catalog of Indian ebooks available on sale. The company is primarily targeting international retailers, and in a statement, says that its ebooks will be available across all major international ebook retailers – Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Google, Gardners, Sony, OLF, Apabi, Go Spoken/Mobcast, OverDrive, Txtr, Ebooks.com, IGroup and Baker & Taylor. On Penguin India’s own website, though, ebooks are “coming soon”.

What’s particularly interesting here is that this now appears to be a new policy for Penguin India: it says it will continue to publish the remaining backlist, and also publish its ‘front list’ simultaneously in both print and ebook editions. It’s taken a while for one of India’s largest publishers to embrace digital, but better late than never.

A few things to note:
– International Only: The note from Penguin says that “the full list of our ebooks will go on sale in India at local prices when the ebook industry develops further here.” What about Indian book retailers? Infibeam, for example, offers ebooks for sale, and Flipkart is in the process of rolling out its ebooks store. Penguins announcement preempts Flipkart’s ebooks launch, and we wonder whether there is some posturing here, or this is a precursor to the ebooks launch when Flipkart launches their ebooks. “Right now, readers in India will be able to purchase ebooks from any of the retailers listed above at international prices.” Bummer.
– Regional Pricing: Penguin India ebooks will be priced to respective geographies.
– Apps: Penguin India has its own mobile apps across Apple, Android, Blackberry and Nokia.

We’ve contacted Penguin India for a more detailed interaction: in particular, we’re wondering how this impacts royalty payouts to authors, and whether Penguin India’s contracts with authors cover digital rights specifically. We’re also curious about the impact that online retailing of books have had on Indian publishers.

If you have any questions for Penguin India, do let us know in the comments, or email nikhil@medianama.com