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Flipkart exits ebooks business

Flipkart Office

Update: Flipkart has sent us a statement regarding ebooks, saying: “Currently, we are evaluating our eBooks strategy and are working towards redefining our digital offerings to our customers.”

Earlier: Ecommerce player Flipkart is exiting the ebooks market. The development was first noted last month by Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli), a global non-profit for writers who self publish. Flipkart ended its distribution deal with self-publishing website Smashwords in the same month.

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, added that Flipkart was asked to repair certain problems related to the listing, and removal of Smashwords titles, to provide Smashwords an acceptable plan to prevent such issues from recurring in the future.

From Smashword’s blog:

I informed Flipkart that if these requirements were not met that Smashwords would request the immediate removal of all Smashwords titles.  The deadline was missed and an acceptable plan was not presented.

This morning Smashwords received word from Flipkart that after careful consideration, Flipkart determined their systems are not yet capable of supporting the dynamic nature of the Smashwords catalog.  As a result they will begin winding down the relationship with Smashwords and remove our titles.

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Flipkart had inked an e-book distribution agreement with Smashwords in 2013 and were supposed to provide its entire catalog of free and paid e-books to Flipkart consumers. At the time, Smashwords had said that all its authors and publishers were automatically opted in to Flipkart distribution.

Repeated emails to the company did not elicit a response. We will update the story once we hear from Flipkart.

Flipkart had launched its ebooks section in 2012 and the books were delivered in a proprietary format where one could not copy, email, or save images from the purchased books. Although people could share up to 140 characters from a specific book onto social platforms.

Other developments in the ebooks space

– Earlier this month, Amazon India launched Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service which will give readers access to over one million books for a limited period. Subscriptions start at Rs 199 per month and Amazon says that readers can get their first month of subscription for only Rs 99. Users can pay Rs 166.6 per month if they opt for the six months package, while the 12 month package costs Rs 149.92 per month. Amazon says that readers will not need to own a Kindle device for Kindle Unlimited and that it can be accessed on any device with the Kindle app installed.

– In June, as part of the Prime Minister’s Digital India programme, the government launched a new portal for students to download school books and ebooks.  The initiative called e-Basta would allow authorized school teachers to access the portal to compile course material and textbooks, and e-books as per a school’s preferences for each class.

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– In August 2014, Handygo owned e-books and digital magazine storefront Rockstand signed content deals with Diamond Publications, Nirali Prakashan and Nachiket Prakashan to expand its portfolio of academic and trade e-book titles.

– News Hunt (now Daily Hunt) forayed into the e-books segment in November 2013 when it started offering e-books across four Indian languages, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Malayalam along with English.


Corrigendum: An earlier version of this story inadvertently linked Flipkart’s moving away from ebooks to the departure of senior staff from the company, while there were no indications that that is the case. Our apologies for the error.

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