Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Wednesday launched an app called Airtel Books featuring a collection of over 70,000 e-books for smartphone users, further diversifying its digital content portfolio.
Airtel Books plans to expand its e-books collection by partnering with publishers as well as leveraging its strategic partnership with Juggernaut Books, said the telecom operator in a statement.
Airtel had acquired a strategic stake in Juggernaut Books, a digital platform that helps users read affordable books and submit amateur writing, in December 2017.
Airtel Books, with titles from Indian and international authors, will be available to both Airtel and non-Airtel customers on iOS and Android.
All Airtel Books users will get a complimentary 30-day trial to experience the app and can access free titles from the Readers Club.
Airtel smartphone customers will also be able to access any five paid titles from the Readers Club, which has a collection of 5,000 e-books. Airtel Books has a subscription service priced at Rs 129 for six months and Rs 199 for 12 months. Customers can also buy books on a per-title basis, the statement said.
With the steep fall in data prices and costs of smartphones, India has started to emerge as a key market for over-the-top (OTT) content, attracting players across the spectrum to set up shops and launch services.
“E-books is a fast-growing segment, along with music and video, thanks to large-screen smartphones becoming the cornerstone of the digital lifestyle. As we have demonstrated with Wynk Music and Airtel TV, our aim is to use deep customer science to curate great reading content for our users and add to their smartphone experience,” said Sameer Batra, chief executive officer, content and apps, Bharti Airtel.
In terms of digital content, telecom companies are playing catch-up with streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. Airtel has been trying to woo customers by tying up with content companies like Hooq, Sony Liv, Zee and Eros Now. The Airtel TV app also has popular YouTube shows in its feed.
Last year in September, TechCircle reported that Airtel had invested almost Rs 20 crore in news video venture Editorji Technologies Pvt. Ltd started by veteran journalist and former NDTV chief executive Vikram Chandra.
In March 2019, Vodafone Idea Ltd and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd entered into a tie-up, in a bid to take on rivals Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. Under the partnership, the content portfolio of ZEE5 will be available to Vodafone Idea customers on Vodafone Play as well as on Idea movies and TV app.
Reliance Jio has been ramping up content operations since its launch with a host of apps such as JioTV, JioCinema, JioMags and Jio Music.