September 25, 2012

Kenya gets its first e-bookstore


E-books will now be available in Kenya through eKitabu and via kiosks at bookstore chain Text Book Centre.

Kenyan news site Standard Digital reported this week that Kenya has gotten its first e-bookstore. The social enterprise outsourcer Digital Divide Data (DDD) is offering the service, eKitabu, that will make e-books available for purchase in the African nation for the first time. Until now, most Kenyans had been “locked out of purchasing ebooks from the world’s major online retailers due to sales territory and payment restrictions,” as DDD’s managing director Amolo Ngw’eno put it.

eKitabu was actually launched a few months ago, with an announcement at brick-and-mortar store Text Book Centre; the store’s various locations have all been equipped with kiosks (similar to B&N’s Nook kiosks, as website Teleread points out), where customers can get help getting started with e-books. Unlike Kindle and Nook, it doesn’t sound like eKitabu has its own dedicated device for people to use. Rather, available titles can be purchased at the company’s website and through a free app for Android phones and tablets. The article from Teleread explains that this actually makes sense for the market, given the prevalence of cell phones in Africa, adding that mobile technology has been a game-changer for rural and developing areas in countries like Kenya.

According to eKitabu’s CEO Matthew Utterback, there are currently some 250,000 titles available to Kenyan readers. And for anybody who happens to be traveling to Nairobi this week, the Nairobi International Book Fair will be going on from September 26-30—and the first thousand visitors to the eKitabu booth can claim a coupon for a free e-book.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.