Assamkart.com aims to make it easier for both Indian and international readers to access Assamese e-books and English e-books from Assam, as well as to provide an electronic publishing platform for Assamese writers.
"We started with the translation of Bhabendra Nath Saikia's most acclaimed short stories and getting them published in the Kindle e-book store," Bikash Kalita, co-founder of Assamkart, said in an e-mail. "He is a legend here and people in India know him as a brilliant writer and film director."
He then realized there were no Assamese e-books. Youngsters do not read many Assamese e-books, and the startup was keen to encourage them to do so by offering Assamese books in a format popular to their generation and makign these available for tablets and mobile phones. It wanted to make Assamese e-books available globally to anyone interested in reading them and began offering Assamese e-books and English e-books of Assamese writers.
The startup initially launched in September 2012 but, at that time, it offered e-books in the form of PDF files. It re-launched the website in March 2013 along with an Android app. The iOS app is currently awaiting approval from the Apple App Store and will launch soon. A desktop version of the app is also in the works.
The startup said its main objective is to make it easier to access Assamese e-books as well as English e-books from Assam, and to provide an electronic publishing platform for Assamese writers. At present, AssamKart is the only platform to address this niche market segment.
Its target audience is Assamese people anywhere in the world, which makes up a huge community, as well as non-Assamese people who want a taste of the writings. It's targeted more toward the tech-savvy people including youngsters.
The startup is looking to grow its business organically without spending on print ads. Social media, word of mouth, online ads, and content marketing are some of the tools it is trying to tap at this moment.
"Exposure in blogs like [ZDNet] can help people to find and understand about AssamKart e-books more and accept it better," said Bikash.
Assamkart is a privately funded startup, and he estimates the e-book provider will expand its database to offer 3,000 titles within one year. It then plans to make other popular e-books available in the store, around 5,000 titles. After catering to Assam, the startup will also help writers and publishers of other seven Northeastern Indian states to publish e-books.
Co-founders Bikash and Navanita Hazarika are the innovators behind this startup. It has a small team of four who manage the company's core functions as well as a team to handle technical issues.
The startup adopts an open culture, offering flexible timings, with young employees who seek inputs from other team members and implement these fast. They also keep a close tab on what readers are saying and always try to think from the reader's perspective, according to Bikash.