With the growing penetration of internet on hand-held devices, the print publishers have started facing immense challenges because readers prefer consuming content on multiple devices, in particular smart phones and tablets. The meteoric rise of digital has raised doubts upon the life of print media in India. Many print media publications have even shut shop. There are some platforms that have started digitalising content through different channels such as Magzter for magazines, Comixology for comics and Pressmart for newspapers. But how about the idea of reading newspapers, magazines, books and comics all on one platform?

What is Readwhere?
Started in 2012 by Gaurav Bhatnagar, Manish Dhingra and Mridul Kashatria, Readwhere is a marketplace of publications that enables publishers to digitise their content and deliver it in paid and free models through the web, mobile and tablet devices to consumers at cheaper rates in comparison to print. The startup, based out of Gurgaon in India, is a team of 17 people and the company is bootstrapped.

Manish Dhingra, Co-Founder & Director, Mediology Software

Manish Dhingra, Co-founder and Director, Mediology Software

Manish Dhingra, Co-Founder & Director, Mediology Software, said, “In a multi-screen world, smartphones and tablets are increasingly being used to form the backbone of content access and instant purchases. Digital content can be far more interactive and real-time. It is for this very reason that we have enabled the publishers with an online platform for better engagement with the new-age consumer.”

Readwhere claims to have over 2,000 publications including The Indian Express, Living Media, World Wide Media, Outlook Group, Arihant Publications and Diamond Comics. It is publishing content in 15 languages from across 250 cities in India. There are no other international players on Readwhere apart from some publishers from the Middle East. It claims to have a subscriber base of about 300,000, growing at about 15 per cent every month.

The mobile and tablet applications are available on iOS, Android and Windows 8 platforms. The content can be purchased by the online payment options such as credit cards, debit cards, SMS payments and inApp purchases, and it gets delivered to all the connected devices via cloud based digital library.

It serves as a free publishing platform for many independent publishers as they leverage the platform to create digital versions of their books and release the same to the audiences. To enhance the magazine reading experience in this multi-screen world where attention spans are short, Readwhere has launched a new app experience for magazines on iOS, Android phones and tablets. It is designed for visual appeal, fast and high quality delivery, in pay-as-you-read experience and social graphing features.

For the elections, Readwhere has launched an application, which allows users to read news from over 250 newspapers, in clips, which are created by the consumers and curated by the team at Readwhere. The application, which is called India Elections 2014, is available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

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Clipping the content
The clipping feature of Readwhere allows readers to create clips of the content they find interesting and share it with their social graphs. They also have a clipbook which stores all the clips a person has taken from across the various publications. The readers on Readwhere can also follow other clipbooks and get notified when a new clip from the people they are following has been created.

“We generate close to 10,000 clips every day from across various newspapers. We certainly believe this is a powerful feature to leverage for the future,” said Dhingra.

Revenue model of Readwhere
There are three models to generate revenues. The company runs advertising on free content, and it charges about 10 per cent commission for every transaction that happens on Readwhere for the paid content. It has the pay-as-you-read model that allows users to pay for only those articles or sections that they read.

The company has partnered with Amazon, HCL for ME tablets and desktops, Panasonic and Lava for mobile phones and tablets where the Readwhere application is pre-embedded on the devices.

Driving awareness about the platform
Though the internet has seen a huge revolution in India over the last decade, the penetration is still very low. Many people access the internet on feature phones, hence the visual appeal of the content suffers.

Dhingra pointed that it has been two years since Readwhere started and the challenges faced have primarily been of educating the publishing community and building an eco-system around the digital publishing.

“We were very early to identify the opportunity that mobile and tablet devices presented. So a lot of challenges for us were around waiting and watching as the ecosystem, device penetration and the end customer matured,” he said.

“Revenue generation was initially a challenge, but we leveraged the cloud and built a Software as a Service (SaaS) based model to bring economies of scale into the business,” he added.

Going global
The company is planning for more content and business acquisitions beyond expanding geographically. As part of the globalisation efforts, Readwhere is planning to expand to Southeast Asia this year as Dhingra believes that the market is fairly vernacular and presents a lot of opportunities.

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