by Vaishnavi J Desai

Tech powers publishing industry’s new game changer

Nov 05, 2015
BrowsersBusinessCollaboration Software

Dailyhunt, a publishing platform, introduced a new trend in the publishing industry: Pay-and-read by chapter model. Virendra Gupta, CEO, speaks about how it can transform writing and publishing altogether.

Have you come across a situation where you hear about a book, but before buying it, you want to read a snippet from it? Maybe, even a chapter? Well, Dailyhunt is making it possible for you. A mobile app and publishing platform for news and books in Indian languages, Dailyhunt, in collaboration with Westland publishers and Amish Tripathi, author of the Shiva trilogy, recently launched a ‘pay-and-read by chapter’ model. With this model, you can buy online one chapter of a book at a time and continue to do so for the rest of the book. It is a first of its kind feature in India, and it got us talking to the company’s CEO and founder, Virendra Gupta about this new trend, and how the experience will be different from ‘Pay-per-book’ model.

What kind of revolution will ‘Pay-and-read by chapter’ model create in the publishing industry?

India has two unique things: One, a great diversity in languages. Therefore, anything that has to have a mass effect has to be in local language. Second is the class division in our society-upper class, with a high disposable income and a price conscious middle class. Hence, pricing becomes a key issue. People want to consume things but they are pretty price conscious. Therefore, the model of sachet pricing brings a lot of people to pay and they needn’t have credit and debit cards. They can pay with mobile money as well. This becomes a potent combination to drive the adoption by users.

Today, the publishing industry is affected by huge printing and distribution costs. There is no surety if the customer would buy the book. With pay-and-read by chapter model, it suddenly gets a medium where you can distribute your books instantaneously, can have innovative pricing models and if your content is great consumers will pay for it. It creates a velocity of revenue coming back. In my mind that’s a revolution we are creating.

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 What kind of audience are you targeting?

Today, a lot of readers visit the website but they don’t purchase. Consider Amish, author of Shiva trilogy, who is a prolific writer in India. People want to read his books but when they see the MRP, they may be put off. Basically, we are inducing more trials. For instance, when a customer sees that the first chapter costs only Rs. 15 he would want to check it out. This way a lot of conversion will happen from browsers to people actually buying the book.

Second thing is, a lot of fence sitters who think e-books are priced higher, will start exploring. The good and the bad thing about readers is that they span across age groups and their interest levels range from education, fiction, to self-help, etc. I feel this will also increase the velocity of people writing for mobile. Today, be it a tech or non-tech product nobody wants to wait too long for it. What you need is smart content being generated frequently and priced decently. This pay-per-chapter model will bring in new age authors who will offer interesting, serialized content which will induce more adoption and consumption.

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What are the challenges you faced while working on this feature?

In any industry, as soon as you try to change the norms you feel a lot of resistance. People will say that my revenue will drop because a reader would have paid extra money for the whole book. He may read the first chapter and may not buy the rest of the book. That is a wrong thesis. If your book is interesting people will buy it. The publishers and authors are nervous too as now the content should be good enough for the readers to buy the second chapter.

How did your IT team prepare to set this up?

Ensuring a good product experience is the biggest challenge. We are a team of 100 engineers, and we had to make sure that at the end of each chapter, the next one is prompted seamlessly and the customer can purchase through single click. We’ve to make sure that book chapter separation is happening on an authentic level. So a lot of effort went into making sure the backend and product work properly.