Encyclopedia Britannica, the oldest English-language encyclopaedia under production, has tied up with Indian publisher Katha to take Indian stories to children across India and worldwide. Britannica will convert titles owned by Katha into eBooks, and distribute them worldwide as part of its eBook program under the overall eLibrary initiative.
Katha, is a 22-year-old non-profit organization that has published over 300 titles translated from 21 Indian languages for adults and children. It’s also active in areas like education and teachers’ training. Whereas, the 32-volume-set Encyclopaedia Britannica has been moving beyond its traditional base to broader educational markets, such as classroom curriculum, e-learning and language instruction.
Katha will compile a Literature Reader in English with its existing and new children’s titles and stories sourced from Indian languages. This will be used as a curricular textbook for Classes 1 to 8, which Britannica will publish and market in India. Meanwhile, Britannica will provide digital knowledge and learning products, to Katha schools and learning centres for underprivileged children in India. Britannica will also offer the Literature Reader to schools abroad that follow Indian curriculum.
When we contacted Katha to understand how the partnership works, what platform the ebooks be available on, new pricing, who holds the rights for the ebooks, and how they will handle Digital Rights Management, they said the details are still being worked upon and will be ready in two-three months.
One step forward, two steps back
India is gradually warming up to the ebook revolution. Recently, Handygo’s ebook and magazine storefront Rockstand tied-up with Ingram Content Group for e-book content, and Delhi Press magazines went up on Ver Se Innovation’s mobile news and ebook app. Such moves help to make content available to many more users.
However, an ebook is often restricted with digital rights management system (DRM). Buying an ebook doesn’t mean that you own the book, you’re only paying to view the book for an unlimited period. It becomes more tricky when ebooks are used for education. Technological restrictions control what users can do with an ebook. For instance, you lose your ebook when you leave a country or if you use too many devices. As a result, legitimate buyers are penalised. This Amazon example case shows the worst of DRM; the company closed a woman’s account and wiped her Kindle, just because it was directly related to another account that abused their policies.