Airtel Books is the latest app to join the growing content portfolio of Bharti Airtel. The telecom operator on Wednesday officially announced the launch of ebooks app for the mobile users. The Airtel Books is being released as standalone application on Android and iOS, and will be accessible to all users, not just Airtel subscribers. As it battles with Vodafone and Reliance Jio in the ultra-competitive wireless services market, Airtel is hoping to retain customers by enticing them with content offerings like Wynk Music, Airtel TV, and the newly launched Airtel Books.
According to Airtel, the Airtel Books app will initially offer just over 70,000 ebooks from Indian as well as international authors, which is a miniscule catalogue size when compared to the likes of Google Play Books, Amazon's Kindle service, and Apple Books. The telecom operator, however, says that it plans to rapidly expand its ebooks collections. Airtel is leveraging its partnership with Juggernaut Books for the app as the publisher is powering the Airtel Books app. The telecom operator had acquired a stake in Juggernaut Books in 2017.
Airtel says that all Airtel subscribers will get a complimentary 30-day trial to use the app as well as access to free titles from its Readers Club subscription service. Additionally, the Airtel subscribers will get a one-time benefit of being able to access five paid titles from the Readers Club.
Readers Club subscription has been priced at Rs. 129 for 6 months and Rs. 199 for 12 months. It includes free unlimited access to the Readers Club catalogue, exclusive invites to book launches, free writing workshops, and more. The Readers Club catalogue has 5,000 titles. In comparison, the Kindle Unlimited subscription is priced at Rs. 169 for a month, and offers unlimited access to over one million ebooks.
“Airtel Books is another major milestone in our journey towards building a world-class digital content portfolio,” said Sameer Batra, CEO – Content & Apps, Bharti Airtel, in a statement. “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 on our best-in-class network.”
With tariffs no longer being a differentiator, Airtel is hoping that its content portfolio will help the company stand out among the competitors. Its rival Reliance Jio offers JioSaavn, JioCinema, JioTV, JioMags, JioXpressNews, and JioNewsPaper content products, but there is no ebooks offering. Similarly, Vodafone also offers a Vodafone Play service.
A quick glance reveals that Airtel Books catalogue is thin at best right now and needs a lot of work. Also, the app seems to be promoting a lot of NSFW content on its homepage, including in the main banner. With no built-in parental controls, the Airtel Books app is a big no-no right now for any parents who don't want to expose their children to such content.