According to a self-described “web innovation” news site knows as e27, the largest e-bookstore in Thailand—it’s known as Ookbee—just raised US$2 million in funding from the legendary Thai conglomerate formerly known as the Shin Corporation.
The Shin Corporation, by the way, was founded in 1983 by the former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Shin, which now holds a 25 percent ownership stake in Ookbee, has since been rebranded, and is now known as INTOUCH. (Confused yet?)
In lieu of attempting to explain Thailand’s Ookbee phenomenon myself, I’ll pass along a few quotes instead from the e27 story:
“Stay in Thailand long enough, [and] you will definitely chance upon Ookbee, Thailand’s biggest e-bookstore on [the] iOS and Android platform[s], [and] with more than 85 percent market shares of the local e-book market. Based in Bangkok, Ookbee is a mobile-only startup which provides the authoring tools for local publishers to publish interactive e-magazines. While Ookbee is a mobile-only startup, it [has served] more than 1.5 million users in less than two years. [The startup is] growing at [a rate of] 5,000 new users per day.”
Those of you who read our recent post about Kenya’s first e-bookstore, eKitabu, may remember my surprise in learning that books sold through eKitabu were made available for reading on smartphones, tablets and computers, but not dedicated e-readers. That seems to be essentially the same case with the books and magazines sold through Ookbee: The e27 story describes Ookbee as “a new way for consumers to read their favorite publications by bringing them to both tablets and smartphones … ”
And just as Kenya’s eKitabu has teamed up with a local brick-and-mortar bookstore chain, Text Book Centre, Ookbee has similarly joined forces with B2S, one of Thailand’s best-known book and stationary shops.
I also found this quote, from Ookbee co-founder and CEO Moo Natavudh, particularly interesting:
“Unlike the U.S. market, most of the e-books and magazine here are primary contents. [That] means that most of the time for these contents, there are no e-book version of these content before ours. We are pretty much converting all ebook from paper and source file one by one and creating the whole market here.”
And as for what Ookbee plans to do with its newly-acquired US$2 million: regional expansion. The company has already expanded to both Vietnam and Malaysia, and is currently valued at US$8 million.