Although, it’s late by a few months, Flipkart has finally launched an e-books section, ‘Flyte eBooks’ on its portal, allowing users to download e-books to their mobile phones and tablets.
Android only: At the time of writing this article, the company is offering only an Android app, but it intends to launch apps for other platforms shortly as indicated by the company’s FAQs. Flipkart also noted that users can re-download purchased books any number of times but they can download the books on six different devices at once.
Further, the company notes that the books are delivered in a proprietary format and one cannot copy, email, or save images from the purchased books, although one can share up to 140 characters from a specific book onto social platforms.
Content: When we checked, we noticed that the site was offering a mixture of free and paid ebooks and is spread across various categories like Literature & Fiction, Teens, Children, Biographies & autobiographies, Academic & Professional, Religion, and Self-help among others. The site claims to offer around 64,335 ebooks at the time of writing this article.
Users can either browse through the best selling books and new book releases on the homepage or else head over to any specific book category to browse through books of that specific genre. There is also a recommendation section at the bottom, which currently offers generic recommendations but we assume will start recommending books based on the user’s previous purchases.
There is an omnipresent search box at the top which allows users to search for their preferred eBook and expectedly, the site also surfaces e-book results when one search for any specific books on the Flipkart homepage.
We noticed that in each category, one can filter the book listings based on sub-categories and pricing or sort the listings based on popularity or pricing. There is also an additional keyword based search box which allows one to search for their preferred e-book in that specific category.
eBooks cheaper than Physical books: Although it’s not quite surprising but we noticed that the eBook version of any specific book is marginally cheaper than its physical version. For instance, the e-book version of Secret of Nagas costs Rs 106 while the physical version costs Rs 119.
For paid e-books, we noticed that the site offers a limited preview of the book free of cost (around 10%), following which one can purchase the book either by adding it to the digital cart or buying it through Flipkart wallet.
After the purchase, the book gets automatically added to the user’s ‘My Library’ section which lists all the e-books previously purchased, along with information on the file size and date on which the book was last downloaded from the library. It also allows one to filter purchases based on whether the book has been download before or not and sort purchases based on recency, title, author, language and file size.
Pricing: The payment modes currently offered by the company include credit cards, debit cards, net banking and Flipkart’s online wallet. Users can also buy books from within the Android app through Flipkart Wallet.
Competition: It will be interesting to see how Flipkart’s e-book store will fare against Amazon’s Kindle Store which was launched in India in August 2012 and claims to offer more than one million ebooks. However, its worth noting that Amazon already has a web reading app and offers a native reading app across all major desktop and mobile platforms with automatic sync, which makes it necessary for Flipkart to roll out reading apps for all major platforms as soon as possible.
Tata Group-owned retail chain Landmark had also launched an e-books store LandmarkOnTheNet.com in September 2012, although the company didn’t offer any reading app of its own at launch and had stated that it was still developing an Android eReader app of its own.
National Book Trust India, the autonomous publication house which works under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, was also looking to create e-books and launch its own e-store. The organization had put out an ‘Expression of Interest’ notice in September 2012, inviting software development agencies/firms who provide similar services to reputed publishers in India and abroad.
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