Remember those days when cracking our head over an entire textbook to understand differentiation and integration concepts wasn't enough? We hurried to the nearest bookstore to buy textbooks by different publishers, or badgered our friends to lend that exclusive book just for a few hours to photocopy a crucial chapter? Remember the high costs of new books and endless hours spent trawling through second-hand ones to nail the sections that would get us through one of life’s crucial chapters?
Not much has changed. Students continue to cram for exams. Textbooks continue to be expensive. But what has thankfully changed is the textbook format. Today, paper coexists with digital and students can now buy an entire e-book or just a chapter they’re looking for. Into this online space is a startup called KopyKitab, which took off in 2013. The duo behind this Bengaluru-based affordable reading space is Sumeet Verma and Amit Shrivastava.
Cheaper than a chai
KopyKitab allows individuals, schools and colleges to buy or rent an e-version of an entire book or buy a single chapter for as little as Rs 10, cheaper than a chai at a wayside kiosk. The platform has tied up with over 100 publishers (S. Chand, Laxmi Publications and Oswaal Books to name a few) and caters to students right from pre-primary to Grade 12 to professional courses. The portal has e-books for all competitive exams as well as professional courses medicine, engineering, management, agriculture, fishery, besides chartered accountancy and company secretary courses.
Says Amit Shrivastava, co-founder of KopyKitab,
If you look at the education sector, only 20 percent is organised, which comes to about $2 billion. The rest is unorganised, which comprises borrowing, lending and photocopying of books. This is 60 percent of the market. So we’re allowing publishers to cater to this massive market through digital media.
Sixth biggest in the world
According to Nielsen India 2015, India's book market is worth Rs 261 billion and is expected to almost triple to Rs. 739 billion by 2020, ranking the sector sixth largest in the world. The report also states that more than 70 percent of Indian publishers are digitising their content, accounting for 15 per cent of the overall ecommerce trade. And with the market estimated to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 19.3 percent in the next five years, the online rental space is clearly here to not only stay but boom as well.
While there are other players in the digital space such as IndiaReads and Librarywala, Amit doesn’t see them as competitors. While IndiaReads has a broad offering of books encompassing fiction, craft, self-help, academics and recreation, it doesn't specifically focus on the education sector. Librarywala, on the other hand, delivers books at subscribers’ doorstep and has a broad offering too.
We are an aggregator, tying up with leading publishers, and making their content available online at a low cost. If we were to talk about competitors, Pearson and Springer are in a similar space. But, then again, they aren’t aggregators. And that’s what differentiates us in the Indian market.
How the model works
KopyKitab’s unit economics is simple. Under the rental model, if renting a book for six months costs Rs. 100, 50 percent goes to the publisher as royalty, around 10 percent to maintain the technology, while the remaining 40 percent is the company’s profit.
KopyKitab has two models: Business to consumer (B2C) and Business to business (B2B).
B2C is primarily targeted at individuals seeking to buy or rent a complete book, or buy just a single chapter. The three-month rental is 30 per cent of the book’s price, whereas for as less as Rs 10, they can buy a single chapter.
Under B2B, KopyKitab partners with schools and universities, helping set up complete digital libraries. For a college, the annual cost is between Rs 5 lakhs to Rs 10 lakhs whereas for a school, it is between Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs. The price depends on the number of users as well as the variety in collection the institution intends to have. The firm has set up digital libraries in more than 25 colleges so far.
KopyKitab, which can be accessed online as well as downloaded as an app, boasts a digital portfolio of more than 50,000 books and 5,000 competitive exam materials.
Over 2,500 daily downloads
KopyKitab currently caters to 5 lakh students on a monthly basis, with 2,500 to 3,000 daily app downloads. Amit says 30 to 40 per cent of the portal’s user base is from tier II and III markets, a strong indicator on the growing educational needs of the nation.
The company is aiming to hit a target of 10,000 downloads a day in the next two to three years and in terms of revenues, it hopes to touch at least Rs 3 crore per annum in the same time-frame.