This Russia-based startup expanded into Singapore today in partnership with StarHub, a local telecom, to bring a library of over 500,000 ebooks to StarHub’s customers and with the goal of engaging local publishers to offer their ebooks on the Bookmate platform.
StarHub customers can read for free from a limited selection of titles, or they can pay to subscribe for either S$10 or S$16 a month. The standard subscription offers a larger selection consisting of hundreds of thousands of fiction and non-fiction titles, including 2014 Booker Prize nominee We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, and the premium tier offers access to Bookmate’s entire catalog, including ebooks from major publishers like HarperCollins, Head of Zeus, Profile Books, Serpent’s Tail, and others.
With around a million and a half active users in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, Bookmate’s subscriber base has plateaued over the past 6 months as their expansion plans have stalled. Earlier this year Bookmate raised a $3 million Series A funding round, primarily from the Russian web retailer Ulmart, with the goal of expanding into Scandinavia and Latin America by the end of this year (I think they missed that goal).
The new partnership with StarHub is actually the first expansion news I have heard from Bookmate since they raised that round of funding in May, although they did announce a new deal with HarperCollins in October.
The Bookmate service is available via free apps for iOS and Android, and it is also available on feature phones through partners in select markets. Given that smartphone penetration is less than complete in many parts of the world, this unique focus gives Bookmate access to a customer base which most of its competitors cannot touch.