Following the official launch of Amazon’s India Kindle store, books and music retailer, Landmark, which is part of the Tata group has launched e-books on its portal LandmarkOnTheNet.com. Users will be able to download books in digital format, and read on computers or other electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, from the website.

Landmark says that it will offer a range of international and local e-books, across genres like romance, science fiction and literature, for which Indian consumers can pay in Rupees. The company says it has priced books starting Rs 52, and will also offer free e-books. It plans to add classic literature titles to its collection of e-books which will be available free of charge.

The online store: The store allows users to browse e-books across genres, and the top categories are listed at the site, with a few listings on the home page. Navigation is not that intuitive and the site takes you to another page if you want to browse all categories. On the book listings page, titles can be filtered on the basis of relevance, release date, whether the book is a best seller, and on the basis of price. Users can also browse by e-book file format, language and author.

There’s also a search option that lets users search by keyword, ISBN, title, author name and others. The site also allows users to compare books and add them to their wish-list.

Buying & downloading e-books: The process for buying e-books is almost similar to physical goods except that Landmark will not offer cash on delivery. After the purchase, eBooks are added to users’ online Bookshelf, from where they can be downloaded. While Non-DRMed eBooks will be available for download as .pdf or .epub (depending on the format that the user chooses), Adobe DRMed eBooks will be offered as download.acsm, which is a download link to download the protected epub or pdf file. Users will need Adobe Digital Editions or any other application that can support Adobe DRMed files to download and read the protected e-book, and they activate up to six computers and devices for one book at a given time. Note that e-books are not available for sale outside India

The company says that it is also working on launching its own Android eReader app. However, till that time users will need third party apps like Aldiko, Blufire Reader, to read these books.

This, kind of makes the whole process a little more cumbersome, compared to Amazon’s Kindle Store, which allows one click purchase and download, although it also restricts the number of devices on which readers can access books.

Pricing: We found that e-books on Landmark are expensive compared to the Kindle store. For example, Suzanne Collin’s best-seller and part of the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, costs Rs 173.22 on the Kindle Store, while the same book costs Rs 563 on Landmark, which is pretty steep. And Landmark’s selling a DRM protected version. It’s not just this book, we found that prices for most best-sellers are on the higher side on the store. Why are e-book prices so high on Landmarks’s store?

 

We do agree that with Amazon’s service, you’re tied-up with the Kindle eco-system but with automatic sync and apps for all major portable device eco-system, why would a user choose something else?

Problems 

– Pricing: The e-books on the store have been priced on the higher side. While e-books do offer the convenience of portability, there are savings in terms of production costs. Why not pass the benefit to the reader? Also, in order to make users switch to digital editions, Landmark needs to price e-books lower compared to physical books and other e-books store.

– No easy way to download DRM protected books: It’s cumbersome to use a third party application to unlock downloads and transfer them, and read them on another reading app. Landmark should have come out with their own app, integrated with Adobe’s software. This is doing no good to promoting the e-books eco system in India.

– Navigation can be better: There could be a better way to navigate the store. Also, a listing based on ‘Bestseller’ lists in different categories is missing.