eBooks launched in Kenya
MOBILEBy BiztechAfrica - Sept. 25, 2012, 5:56 p.m.
By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya
An international business process outsourcing company has launched an electronic books service that is set to revolutionise publishing in the Kenya. Digital Divide Data (DDD), a social enterprise BPO with a subsidiary in Kenya, will offer the ebooks service through the eKitabu.com online portal and free Android application.
An ebook is a digital version of a traditional print book, although new technologies enable publishers to add audio, video and interactive features into them.
eKitabu requires a data connection to purchase, download and open an ebook for the first time. Once downloaded, the ebooks can be read offline on a PC, laptop or tablet device. Ekitabu offers paid-for and free ebooks, as well as audio books.
eKitabu Chief Executive Matthew Utterback said the portal offers over 250,000 titles in different categories across subjects such as fiction, romance, religion, education and engineering, among others.
Breaking the payment barrier
It has also broken the e-commerce barrier of payment in Africa by enabling purchase of ebooks using mobile money transfer service M-Pesa as well as credit cards. He said the payment options would be graduated to include other mobile operators.
“eKitabu lets you access ebooks from international and Kenyan publishers, buy them using M-Pesa or credit card and, most importantly, read them. You can read ebooks purchased on eKitabu on any Android phone or tablet device, and any computer – all with free software,” he said ahead of the Nairobi International Book Fair, to be held between September 26 and 30 this year at the Sarit Centre, Nairobi.
To celebrate the launch, the first 1,000 visitors to eKitabu’s stand at the book fair will receive a coupon for a free ebook, he said.
Electronic publishing presents a new growth opportunity for Kenyan publishers, who have shied away from ebooks over concerns of digital copyright infringements and security.
Addressing copyright concerns
Amolo Ngw’eno, the managing director of DDD Kenya, said eKitabu has integrated a secure system that locks out piracy and which has been approved by major publishers word-wide. Using this technology has enabled eKitabu to secure rights to sell ebooks from American and British publishers in Kenya and throughout Africa.
In the US, Amazon.com pioneered consumer ebooks with the launch of its Kindle eReader device in 2007. Even with the launch of the iPad in 2010, Amazon still retains its dominant position in the US ebook market. Internationally, however, the market is much more open. New technologies enable anyone with a smart phone to purchase and read ebooks. The critical last mile, said Utterback, is to provide localised payment mechanisms, training for new ebook users, and to partner with local publishers to provide relevant content.
“The average Kenyan is currently locked out of purchasing ebooks from the world’s major online retailers due to sales territory and payment restrictions,” said Ngw’eno. “eKitabu is securing the rights to sell ebooks in Kenya and East Africa from major international publishers.
Highlighting local literature
He said eKitabu gives publishers a platform on which to sell ebooks locally and internationally, and for Kenyan consumers and students to buy and read local and international titles. “We saw the problems as connected,” said Utterback, who is also DDD's Vice President for New Ventures. “Without great books available, consumers wouldn’t be attracted to ebooks; without consumers attracted to ebooks, publishers wouldn’t be interested in making their books available. Therefore, we’ve solved both problems at once – opening up a huge catalog of books, and giving publishers an easy way to add their books to our catalog.”
Utterback said eKitabu provides a full range of digital publishing and ebook services for publishers. Beyond retailing their ebooks on eKitabu, Digital Divide Data provides a complete service to help produce ebooks and monetise content through international distribution on Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Noble’s ebook stores.
In the US, EU and Asia, the ebook market is growing rapidly. After years of declining sales, US publishers are now seeing revenue growth, largely attributed to ebooks, according to the American Publishers’ Association. The overall ebooks growth rate in the US stands at 49% percent, but hit 475% in young adult and children’s books.
Utterback says the market for ebooks in Kenya is still just being created. However, he added, eKitabu can point to some early success and is encouraged by the rapid adoption of smart phones and tablets.
In June this, eKitabu supported Kwani Trust, a Kenyan literary publisher, to launch the first Kenyan ebook – Binyavanga Wainaina’s memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place.
"Kwani was a perfect partner for us to launch with," said Ngw’eno of DDD Kenya. "They have an open vision of the digital, mobile future of reading and culture in Africa.”
eKitabu also has partnered with Text Book Centre to power ebook kiosks in their retail shops as well as Text Book Centre’s online ebook store. The first kiosk is up and running at Text Book Centre’s shop in Nairobi’s Sarit Centre, and the kiosks will come to more of their shops soon.
MORE MOBILE NEWS
MTN launches new positioning campaign for enterprise marketMTN Group today unveiled a new Pan-African brand positioning media campaign for MTN Business, its enterprise business unit. Read More
tn mobile rolls out 4G LTE prepaidtn mobile, the mobile division of Telecom Namibia, reports that it is the first operator in Namibia to offer 4G LTE prepaid broadband service to consumers. Read More
Do you have an effective mobile strategy?How does mobility impact your business, asks PBT Group. Read More
Arusha ‘gets reason to Smile’Smile Communications has extended its 4G LTE services to Arusha, taking high speed mobile internet to the region. Read More
Safaricom buys naming rights to Moi International Sports CentreSSMB and Safaricom have signed a two year partnership worth KES 55 million for the naming and branding rights for the Moi International Sports Centre. Read More
Beware updatesWhether it’s a firmware or an operating system upgrade, updates tend to be extremely data hungry, says MIP Holdings. Read More
Econet in wind power projectEconet Wireless has joined an initiative led by Danish wind energy group Vestas to build small wind power generators across Africa. Read More
BYOD: 1bn consumer-owned mobile devices at work by 2018The BYOD trend will drive the number of consumer-owned devices up to 1 billion by 2018, says Juniper Research. Read More
Ghana’s First Lady commends MTN Ghana FoundationGhana’s first lady, Lordina Mahama, has commended Ghana’s mobile telecom giant MTN Ghana and the MTN Foundation for taking the initiative to assist the Akropong School for the Blind. Read More
FEATURED STORYGaming app introduces investors to trading
A new virtual stock market app is equipping would-be investors with the skills they need to trade.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHCorporate cyber security threats of the year
91% of organisations polled suffered a cyber-attack at least once in the past year, says Kaspersky Lab in its security review of 2013.
COMPANY NEWSMTN launches new positioning campaign for enterprise market
MTN Group today unveiled a new Pan-African brand positioning media campaign for MTN Business, its enterprise business unit.