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EC Media To Launch Magazine Store App; Regional Language Digitisation Trends

Bangalore-based EC Media International Private Ltd is gearing up for the commercial launch of MagsonWink, a "one-stop-magazine" store application for tablet PCs. The app will be available on Android OS based devices, the Apple iPad and Blackberrys too. The company, a part of the Kerala based leading books publisher DC Books, has tied up with 25 magazines and newspapers including Open, The Week, Business Standard, and Tehelka, among others, for it. The application is expected to offer about 150 publications by the year end.

It's a free app but users will have to pay for the magazines. But they can also pay per download for an article, Ravi Deecee, CEO, EC Media, told VCCircle.

MagsonWink will also showcase regional magazines and newspapers on its storefront. This is part of the company's greater goal - to grow the ecosystem of regional language ebooks. Of the 350,000 ebooks available on Wink eReader, 10,000 are regional language books. DC Books has a team of 30 people who are involved in conversion of physical books in regional languages into ebooks. Around 70% of the 10,000 books digitised so far is by the team. It outsourced the rest. "It is difficult to convert books to ebooks. We do around 20-30 per day," he said.

Inertia In Regional Language Digitisation

Ravi talks about the continued lack of interest in regional language digitisation in the country. He said, "We are still educating publishers. It is still a small number compared to the existing library available in print."

Many are yet to understand the potential of digitisation, according to R Subramanya, Head- Marketing, Ninestars Information Technologies. Bangalore-based Ninestars calls itself the largest company in this space in terms of volumes, having digitised 300 million pages and 3,000-4,000 books in all.

It has completed projects for global media houses including Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and in India - The Hindu, Times of India, Dinakaran, Malayala Manorama. With its digital processing platform, an 80-90% of the work is automated and its 1,000 digital processing experts finetune the rest, explained Subramanya.

Regional language digitisation is a focus for the company which has 13-16 regional language clients and has digitised works in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Oriya and Hindi. Archives of publishing houses Malayala Manorama, Margabhoomi and Eenadu were digitised by the company.

Subramanya says, "Some are passionate with what they have achieved, others are yet to understand the potential and ROI. Monetisation is another issue publishers are pondering over. Only the fast moving, tech-savvy and clued in houses are choosing to digitise their content."

"Local language newspagers and magazines are showing huge interest in digital publishing. Regional book publishers will also have similar interest once readers grow in numbers," says Infibeam CEO VIshal Mehta whose publishing platform has churned out 2000 books so far, of which 15-20% are in regional languages.

Ravi adds that this space has potential for entrepreneurs in the publishing space. DC Books is doing its part in offering opportunities for small businessmen to launch set ups that only digitise regional language books. "We are aso encouraging entrepreneurs for conversion and have one steady partnership for converting on a regular basis," he said.

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