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Flipkart Stops Selling eBooks On Its Platform, Doesn’t See It As A ‘Strategic Fit’ In Indian Market

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India’s biggest eCommerce platform Flipkar will stop selling ebooks from today onwards on its platform, citing that the Indian users are not yet ready to adopt this new book format. Ironically, it was books (not eBooks though) through which Flipkart initially started its business.

Though the users won’t be able to buy new ebooks, their previous purchases will be available. From 11th December, e-books which were purchased by the users on Flipkart will be serviced by Canada’s eBook and eReader provider Rakuten Kobo, which is offering more than four million e-books.

In a statement, the company said.

The Indian book market is overwhelmingly dominated by physical books and this is a market that is growing at a fast clip. Flipkart will continue to be a leading player in the overall books market in India. In its overall strategy for books, Flipkart does not see the e-Books service as a strategic fit and hence the decision of transitioning the e-Books service to Kobo.

Flipkart, which entered into a contract with Smashwords, a distributor of ebooks, cancelled the same contract in September. Thus, it was being speculated since then that the company will be exiting this business.

The eBook store from Flipkart was launched in 2012. In 2013, the company also launched its mobile application for various platforms including Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Web so that the users can read the ebooks through this app.

The books were delivered in a proprietary format where the user could not copy, email, save images, or share the purchased books. Although users were allowed to share up to 140 characters from a book on social platforms.

The ebook reader mobile application from Flipkart came with features similar to what the Kindle’s ebook reader app provides. It allowed users to  highlight the text, take notes, bookmark pages and even refer to a dictionary while reading, without having to leave the app.

As per the report from market researcher Nielsen, the print book market in India is valued at $3.9 billion and is pegged as the second largest English book market in the world.

It is noteworthy that Flipkart was started as an online book retailer in 2007, but it later expanded its business to higher value products. Currently, Amazon is the leading online book seller in India.

Amazon entered the Indian market and quickly focused on the books segment. Right now, Amazon is trying hard to push its ebooks business with advertisement campaigns about Kindle which features some of the bestselling authors of India.

So far, Flipkart has had no luck with either of its digital services businesses. Last year, the company shut down its online payment gateway named PayZippy which was launched in 2013. In May 2013, the company also shut down Flyte, its online music streaming business just after 15 months. And now, it is exiting ebooks market.


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