Kindle Unlimited Launches In India
Amazon’s unlimited ebook service is now available in India.
Pricing starts at 99 rupees (about $1.49 USD) for an introductory one-month plan. Subscription prices range between 149 and 199 rupees, depending on whether you pay by the month or a full year in advance.
KU is priced at $9.99 in the US (and higher in other markets), so that price is as low as it appears. Amazon boasts that KU offers Indian readers "over One million titles for less than the average price of a single print book".
The selection includes both Indian and foreign titles like best seller Two states, One night at a call centre by Chetan Bhagat, The Immortals of Meluha by Amish, political books like Mandate: The Will Of The People by Vir Sanghvi, crime and thriller titles like The Mahabharata Quest, self-improvement books like Don’t Lose Out, Work Out by Rujuta Diwekar, plus thousands of classics including The Bhagavad Gita as well as children’s books such as Harry Potter, the Tell me Why series, and more.
This is the first Asian launch for Kindle Unlimited, which is currently also available in the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Brazil.
Amazon was one of the first major ebook retailers to launch in India when it released the Kindle there in August 2012. It was followed months later by Google Play Books and Kobo, which launched in early 2013 and late 2013, respectively.
It faces stiff competition in India, including from Flipkart. This company is the largest web retailer in India, and it’s also regarded as the leading local ebook retailer, making it a double threat to Amazon.
Greg Strandberg September 2, 2015 um 3:34 pm
Wow, maybe Mexico will be next! I’ve sold one book there in 2 years.
Mark Williams September 3, 2015 um 3:49 am
It’s a major breakthrough in glocalization for Amazon after such a poor start in India, and could be a game-changer for the India ebook market.
From the early days when local Indian cards were not accepted and many products were only available in USD (meaning currency exchange fees making already expensive products even more so) Amazon has transformed its game in the past eighteen months.
Glocalizing the India KU subscription fee to a very affordable 199 rupees is masterstroke, and in keeping with Amazon’s current policy to take heavy losses in India short-term to reap the benefits later as the India digital economy shifts into second gear.
In broad terms, Flipkart, once the undisputed giant of Indian online retailing, has seen market share plummet from 80% to just 44%, with Snapdeal chasing its heels at 32% and Amazon now at an impressive 15%, from nowhere just a few years ago.
Snapdeal doesn’t do ebooks. Yet. Which means the main domestic ebook competition comes from the mobile specialists Newshunt and Rockstand.
Infibeam doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with ebooks. Landmark, surprisingly, started selling digitally then walked away. The smaller players like Pothi are neither here nor there.
With no iBooks store in India and Kobo having partnered with a couple of insignificant bit-players, it leaves Google Play the only big western competitor for Amazon.
Effectively it’s a five-retailer battle right now for ebooks. Amazon, Flipkart, Google Play, Rockstand and Newshunt.
For western indie authors the latter two may as well not exist (although both welcome indie titles) and with Flipkart now removed from the Smashwords list and Google Play’s self-pub portal closed it means for western indie authors wanting an easy way into India Amazon is the only game in town.
(For those who are interested, StreetLib will still get you into Google Play and Xin-Xii into Flipkart).
The 199 rupee KU deal is going to prove hugely popular in India, no question. But there’s still one last glocalization challenge Amazon needs to confront in India to become the dominant ebook player.
In a country where so few people have bank accounts, let alone credit and debit cards, accepting payments for online goods is the biggest challenge all online retailers face in India.
Carrier billing is the key – allowing customers to pay for purchases via their mobile credit (which they pay for in cash).
Local players like Newshunt and Rockstand have built up an impressive customer base by offering carrier billing. Google Play were recently in talks with Airtel to offer carrier billing.
If Amazon India can grasp the carrier-billing nettle and open its wares to the many millions in India who own smartphones but have no way of paying for Kindle ebooks or a KU subscription…
Kobo is there, but the partner stores are insignificant players and Kobo seems to have its focus elsewhere.