Endorsing eBooks

Navanita Hazarika and Bikash Kalita are trying to rekindle the habit of reading through their eBook store, the first in the Northeast, says Rajib Roy


THEY WANTED to arrest the slide in the habit of reading books, particularly of vernacular languages. So Navanita Hazarika and Bikash Kalita founded www.assamkart.com, the first eBook store in the Northeast.

     The eBook store is Navanita’s brainchild. The idea struck her while discussing Assamese books, the unwillingness of people to read and the need to take vernacular literature to the next level. “We wanted to make the works of writers of the Northeast easily available to all people. If English eBooks are popular, why could we not popularize Assamese eBooks? Youth and kids do not like to read Assamese books, so if you offer them books in an attractive and new format through devices such as mobile, tablets and computers that they play with, they would definitely read more books,” she said.

     Launched on September 30 last year, AssamKart has 25 eBooks on its website with 100 more ready to go online. Coming April, it will offer an overhauled website where readers can explore the contents before buying their eBooks. Also on the cards is the development of a free android app for android phones and android tablets which will offer seamless and excellent reading experience to the readers. The co-founders claim this would the first android app that will allow reading of Assamese eBooks.

     Apart from these there are some free eBooks. “We have 300 more eBooks to offer to the readers,” said Bikash, adding that their store will go live in May with the iOS app for iPhone and iPad. The store will offer other formats, such as, pdf, etc. depending on user demands.

     The duo said the eBook idea was catching up well with readers in this region. “Today, the world is a small global village. People here are reading eBooks and using different eBook readers, tablets and mobile phones to read them. People love eBooks because of the several benefits they have to offer,” said Navanita.

     They are also planning to bring more linguistic eBooks into their platform in the near future. “We will have books in the languages of the Northeast first. We may start with other Northeast languages using Roman script,” added Bikash.

     Beyond checking the dying habit of reading, the eBook store will also help writers to publish their work in eBook format through Nirvana Sutra, the e-publishing wing of B&N Initiative, of which AssamKart is a division. They have been urging writers to contact them and get their works published. “We can take your eBooks to people around the world. We are not only publishing eBooks of writers from Assam, but will also publish eBooks of writers of any of the northeast states,” said Bikash.

     AssamKart have also collaborated with publishers from the Northeast for making available books on eBook platform. It also intends to meet more publishers from all the states in the region to offer their books in eBook format. Besides, Assamkart has plans for research scholars. “We may have a separate scholar system wherein they will be able to publish their research works and make them easily available,” said Bikash.

     The co-founders also spoke about the advantages of eBook over conventional books. Among the advantages that the former have is it’s easily available as one can buy eBooks right from their home; the user can carry it in a tablet or phone, as many as, 100 eBooks without any problem, which is not possible in case of conventional books; one can buy eBooks from any part of the world and most of the time the price of an ebook is less than the physical book. Although traditional books have some distinct features like touch and feel, but today eBooks are catching up on these features. “Besides being easier to read on different devices as per your choice, it also offers traditional reading experience (e-ink and book like reading features),” Navanita said.


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