Once viewed as a serious local threat to the Kindle, Flipkart announced on Friday that it is pulling a Sony. The Indian retailer is shuttering its three-year-old ebookstore, and handing its customers off to Kobo.
In a deal that closely resembles Kobo’s agreements with Tesco/Blinkbox and Sony, ebook accounts belonging to Flipkart customers will be transferred to Kobo starting on 17 December. All ebooks should be transferred, but Flipkart has promised refunds for any ebooks which don’t make it through the transition. Flipkart customers can continue to read ebooks in the Flipkart app after the transition, although the retailer has said it will turn off its servers in mid-February.
You can find more details on the Flipkart website.
Based on reports that Flipkart’s digital efforts had fallen into disarray, rumors of the store’s closure have been circulating since September, but the decision was only made official this week when Flipkart announced that it would be focusing on paper books, and not digital.
“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,” Flipkart said in a statement. “In an overall strategy for books, Flipkart does not see the eBooks service as a strategic fit and hence the decision of transitioning the eBooks service to Kobo,” it added.
This move will leave the Kindle as, if not the most popular ebook store in India, at least the most well-known. Amazon opened a local Kindle Store in India in 2012, and counts Google, Apple, and Kobo as competitors.
I can’t tell you which bookstore has the largest share, but Amazon is devoting a lot of attention to India. That’s one of the few markets where KDP offers a 70% royalty (there’s a catch: you have to also be in KDP Select). And earlier this year Amazon also launched Kindle Unlimited in India, charging a cut rate price of 99 rupees, or around $1.49 a month.
Kobo, on the other hand, launched in India a year after Amazon by partnering with WH Smith and Crossword as local retail partners.
image by oldandsolo