Flipkart eBooks

Its taken them almost nine months to do this, but Flipkart has finally extended its eBooks app to iOS, Windows Phone 8 and the web, along with the existing Android app. These apps will allow users to access their purchased eBooks on the respective mobile devices.

Similar to the Android app which was recently revamped, the company claims the new apps uses its own FlipStream technology to provide a faster and better reading experience to users. Besides this, there is the ability to switch reading mode (day, night and sepia), font size and orientation (landscape/portrait), ability to highlight any text, take notes, bookmark pages and refer to a dictionary while reading.

It also offers features like FlipSync, which seems to be Flipkart’s version of Amazon’s Whispersync technology and allows users to automatically sync the last read location, highlights, notes and bookmarks across all their devices and FlipThru which essentially allows users to download a sample excerpt of any eBook in their library. It also apparently offers eBook recommendations based on the user’s reading habits.

Note that there is still no iPad app, which we feel is quite important for an eBook service due to its prevalence in the country and people tend to read more on an tablet rather than on phone. Flipkart however offers an app for Android tablet. Update: While the Flipkart iPad app was not available at time of writing this article, it looks like the iPad app is now available on the App Store. We tried it on iPad 4 and noticed that the app currently allows users to view only their library and doesn’t allow them to buy books right now. It looks like the company hasn’t enabled the store yet, due to revenue sharing issues with Apple, but they are apparently working on a solution and plan to enable the store soon.

Nokia Preloading Deal:  Coinciding with this announcement, Flipkart has also inked a partnership with Nokia to preload the Flipkart eBooks app on the forthcoming Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphones. The deal period or the terms of this partnership were not disclosed.

The company also claims that authors like Khushwant Singh and Sidin Vadukut have written exclusive pieces for Flipkart eBooks. However, its currently not clear if these pieces are part of the Nokia partnership and are therefore preloaded on Nokia Lumia devices only or it will be available to customers on other platforms as well. Update: Flipkart has informed that these pieces will be exclusive to Lumia devices.

Content: Flipkart claims to have 2.5 lakh titles at present and hopes to increase it to 10 lakhs by the end of this year. Interestingly, the company also claims to have an extensive selection of Hindi eBooks in its catalogue, however it hasn’t disclosed any specific information on this. Going forward, the company also plans to add Marathi and Bengali titles by the next quarter.

Competition: Amazon had launched its Indian Kindle store in August 2012 and had then claimed to have more than one million ebooks. However, whats worth noting is that Amazon already has a web reading app and offers a native reading app across all major desktop and mobile platforms with automatic sync. It had also extended its own Kindle eBook readers and tablets to India in June 2013.

While Google was quite late to the e-book market in India with the Play Books launch in February 2013, it offers apps across various platforms like AndroidiOSWeb,Chrome Extension, and e-book readers  which support Adobe’s eBook platform including Kindle. Apple is yet to launch its paid eBooks store to India.

Other players in this space include Handygo Technologies’s RockASAP which inked several content partnerships earlier today, Tata Group-owned retail chain Landmark’s e-books store LandmarkOnTheNet.com and Mumbai-based E-Book marketplace Attano among others.