x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Jashanmal launches e-book reader with a difference

Jashanmal Bookstores is set to launch an e-book reader that uses digital content sold on a card in its shops - with video.

Narain Jashanmal, the general manager of Jashanmal Bookstores, says Amazon's model for the Kindle is too complicated for the Middle East. Nicole Hill / The National
Narain Jashanmal, the general manager of Jashanmal Bookstores, says Amazon's model for the Kindle is too complicated for the Middle East. Nicole Hill / The National

E-books have been tipped as the final chapter in the slow death of the humble book shop, but one Dubai retailer is aiming to keep the plot running.

Jashanmal Bookstores is set to launch an e-book reader in the Middle East to compete with Amazon's Kindle. But the content for the e-book reader, which is being designed and manufactured by Kibano, a company based in Norway, will be available only on small cards sold in Jashanmal stores.

Content on the cards will be transferred wirelessly from card readers in the stores on to e-books.

It will also be transferable to other e-book devices such as the iPad, iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Narain Jashanmal, the general manager of Jashanmal Bookstores, says Amazon's model for the Kindle, for which books can be bought via the internet, is too complicated for the Middle East, which has various languages, legal structures and publishing rights.

"The [Amazon model] will come one day, but between that day and this, there needs to be a digital solution," he said.

Jashanmal will initially sell digital audiobooks that can be played on devices manufactured by Kibano, and hopes to launch an e-book by next year.

The audiobooks will cost Dh150 (US$40) to Dh200, and the e-book will retail at Dh600 to Dh800.

"Initially the e-books will be branded by Kibano, but if we see enough volumes we will sub-brand it as Jashanmal," Mr Jashanmal said.

The bookstores will initially stock 300 e-book titles and will add more each week in different languages including Arabic.

There will be a premium to pay for e-book cards over traditional books of about 15 per cent.

The global e-book market increased by more than 200 per cent last year, according to the research company Futuresource Consulting.

rjones@thenational.ae