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Handygo’s eBook app Rockstand Inks Tieups with Publishers; Business Model

RockASAP, an ebook initiative by Handygo Technologies has announced its partnership with publishers like Diamond Comics Books, OM Books, Rajkamal Prakashan, Katha, Times Group and Pratham increasing the number of publishers available on Rockstand from 54 to 100. The publishers have inked a partnership with RockASAP that is based on revenue sharing. RockASAP is also planning to sign a contract with Disney by the end of this financial year.

Why are publishers signing up for an ebook platform?

Speaking to Medianama, Rishi Mohan Jha, Head, RockASAP Retail Pvt. Ltd. said that some of these publishers had released their own app but the limited number of titles with each publisher makes it necessary for readers to download several apps. This he says has been working to Rockstand’s advantage. The partnership is being viewed as an additional source of revenue for the publishers.

Target audience:

Although Rockstand is looking to go global, currently their main focus is to target the Indian market and hence the increase in the number of partnerships with Indian publishers to provide more regional content. Presently, Rockstand offers content in 13 languages including English, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu. Apart from adults, Rockstand also caters to children with titles like Chacha Chaudhary, Billu, Pinki etc. They currently provide 54 magazines on the app.

Process of publishing and features:

Publishers usually share the pdf of the books with RockASAP which are then converted by them into ePub. Rockstand bears the cost of digitizing the books. Rockstand is a DRM enabled app so users cannot copy, download or even take a screen shot of any of the books. Other features on the app include annotation to mark parts of the text, text to speech feature which is also available in the offline mode etc.  They have also created a self-publishing zone for people who would like to have their writing published. Presently, these self-published titles are available for free but RockASAP is open to entering a revenue sharing partnership with the writers.

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Although search feature is also available in the app, the reviews on the Google App store show that the users are not presently very happy with the search feature in the app. The overall experience of the app is that of a webpage wrapped as an app. So far since its launch a year ago, the app claims to have clocked 10,000 downloads. The company attributes this low rate of downloads to the lack of marketing efforts to promote the app.

Business Model:

Rockstand currently has 3 distribution channels.

Initiated by Handygo Technologies, a VAS player, RockASAP is entering into partnerships with service
operators. Rockstand is soon expected to be launched by service providers as a VAS offering charging a fee of Rs.30 to 50 for 3 magazines or so.

It is also working on providing Rockstand as a pre- installed app in mobile handsets.

Besides that the app is also available on the Google Play Store as a free download. The free app RockASAP says is a cost they have to bear to change a behavior. After the initial free app download, Rockstand also offers a free content corner which was introduced to familiarize the readers to the idea of ebooks. However, for further reading, users are expected to pay for every title they would like to read. The company hopes to acquire 5 lakh users by the end of this financial year.


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