Kenya’s First E-Bookstore Is Open for Business

Kenya’s very first e-bookstore, eKitabu, officially launched about 10 weeks ago, according to an article on the website of a Kenyan media group.

And this is interesting: According to a post on the eKitabu blog, the company introduced itself to Kenya’s reading public at a brick-and-mortar bookstore, Text Book Centre. Apparently e-book kiosks have since been installed inside every TBC retail location: “At the Kiosk,” as the post reads, “you can receive help on how to get started reading eBooks, find your next favorite book, and start reading.”

That sounds a lot like the Barnes & Noble Nook kiosks to me, although unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a photo. The picture to the right is a shot of TBC’s Junction Shopping Mall location, but I’m guessing that’s the cash wrap area.

Also interesting: According to the aforementioned article, the 250,000 different e-book titles available at eKitabu can be read “on any Android phone or tablet device, and any computer—all with free software.” There’s no mention at all of dedicated e-readers, although that does make sense when you consider just how prevalent cell phones are in Africa. Mobile technology has been described as a “game changer” in Africa’s rural and developing areas. The continent is now said to be the second-largest mobile market in the world, with roughly 600 million subscribers.

As for actually purchasing e-books from eKitabu, that can done directly through the company’s website or with its free Android app. Books can be purchased with credit cards, or by using a mobile money transfer service known as M-Pesa.

3 Comments on Kenya’s First E-Bookstore Is Open for Business

  1. Thank you for the write up.

    We’d be very happy to tell you more about what we’re working on at eKitabu.

    You got the facts correct:
    – we do have a partnership with Text Book Centre , Kenya’s largest book store chain. Unsurprisingly, they also sell a lot of PCs, laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc. Currently, we’re up in their store in Sarit Centre, with more to follow. Will send a photo if you’re interested.
    – there is no dedicate ereader device. we have our own Android app. but our books (mostly protected with Adobe DRM) can be read on any Adobe compliant reader app on iOS, Android or on Adobe Digital Editions on a computer.
    – MPESA is quite amazing, estimates range as high as 25% of Kenya GDP flows through the system. Good article here: http://www.economist.com/node/21560878

  2. Hey all,

    A good initiative but a little too late. We already get the same from ‘Bookway Builder.com’ especially its affiliate on FB ‘Soko La Vitabu’. One also orders via M-pesa (and the customer care is wonderful. Say hi to ‘Felix’

    Regards

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