Urdu e-reader Kitaab will help you read Ghalib, Manto on your smartphone

Android app serves as digital library, e-publisher for upcoming authors.

Our Correspondent June 10, 2016
Kitaab will allow writers to easily publish their works that can be accessed by readers from all across the world. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

KARACHI: The Amazon Kindle is largely credited for revolutionising the reading experience for the new generation of bookworms. Since the release of the popular e-reader, numerous such applications and devices have popped up. Aiming to capitalise on this trend, a group of Pakistani mobile application developers have launched the first Urdu e-reading application, Kitaab.

As is the case with such platforms, the company behind the application, Ideal Ideaz, has ensured that all the content on Kitaab is legal and has only been uploaded following the author and publisher’s consent.

While Kitaab is still in its embryonic stages, the developers are in the process of expanding its digital library. Future versions of the application may include the option to allow authors to sell their books on the platform. In order to protect their content from online piracy, the developers are currently working on a Digital Rights Management system.

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The general belief is that there are very few Urdu readers online, something that will make it increasingly difficult for Kitaab to sustain in the long run. Talking to The Express Tribune, Ideal Ideaz CEO Arslan Zaidi clarified that contrary to popular belief, this was not the case. “It may appear that Urdu has a very niche audience … but the numbers say otherwise,” he said.

“In Pakistan and India, if you take all the factors into account, there are close to 12 million Urdu readers,” he explained. “That is a lot and we haven’t included countries such as Australia, England and the US where there are bound to be more readers.”

Citing the example of Urdu blogs that upload scanned copies of works of literary giants, he assured that there was definitely potential in this application to succeed in the longer run. “Those websites, despite uploading below-par copies of the works of the likes of Saadat Hasan Manto and Ghalib, still manage to attract close to 100,000 views on a monthly basis,” said Zaidi, adding, “This proves that there is definitely a healthy number of Urdu readers out there.”

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Although not currently in place, there are plans to remunerate authors and publishers in the future. “Hopefully, once we launch a subscription version of our application or when we introduce paid books, we do intend on paying the authors,” he shared. “Right now it is too early for us to pay anyone as we haven’t got any ads and we are still trying to create a buzz for Kitaab,” noted Zaidi.

In a short time, Kitaab has already published authors from countries such as India, Australia, United Kingdom, US and France.

The application will allow authors and publishers to easily publish their works which can be accessed by readers all across the world. One of the many unique features of Kitaab is that it is completely e-pub, since it fulfils all the international standards of e-publishing. Another interesting tool for readers using Kitaab would be the unique ‘Text-to-Image’ sharing mechanism which would enable readers to share their favourite lines from any book to social media.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2016.

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