World’s first Bengali language e-book library
Two technocrats and a digital media expert have teamed up to create an online Bengali e-book library, billed as the world’s first such initiative in the “true sense of the word”. Borrowed e-books in epub files, not PDFs that are abundantly available on the Internet, can be read on the library’s app on cellphones or tablets, the project’s founders told PTI.
The “Ketab-e.net” library app will initially offer a mix of around 50 titles – classics, children’s literature, unorthodox books – and all of these will be copyrighted. Back issues of some major small magazines that are not currently available can also be found in this library which will be officially launched on July 17, said Pinaki Mitra, one of three directors of the company that brings ease to bibliophiles. .
“The general perception is that e-books means PDF. There are sites where many Bengali books in PDF files are available. They claim to be e-book libraries. Only one site has come to our attention that offers books in another format (not epub). But the problem is that a lot of these sites violate copyright law,” Mitra said. So, in the true sense of the word, it is the first Bengali language e-book library in the world, he claimed.
Initially, a subscriber can read five books at a time and membership will be based on a nominal monthly subscription fee. “Our main target audience now is Bengalis living outside of West Bengal and India. Those who stay abroad find it difficult to get books. Bringing physical books from Kolkata takes a lot of time and money “, said Debajyoti Bhattacharya, another director of Bestread Publications. and Digital Services Private Limited.
Such a mechanism is probably the only way to pass on the habit of reading Bengali books to the next generation, he said. “The idea came to me when I had difficulty getting a Bengali starter for my daughter. We have been living in Sweden for a few years. I have seen that many people like me have gone through the same ordeal. For internet giants in this area, Bengali is not a priority language,” Mitra said.
The local municipal library in Sweden, of which Mitra is a member, has digitized part of its collection and it is available in epub format, which provides a better reading experience than PDF. “Neither Bengali classics nor books by modern authors are available in a format that can give you an enjoyable reading experience. So, we started chatting amongst ourselves and finally took the plunge when people showed interest in a Bengali e-book proposal. library,” he says.
They started working on the project around August last year and found that in addition to forming a viable business model, the technological part – from reproducing old books in digital form to securing books against unscrupulous elements – is the key. “Borrowed books will remain online and these will never be on the reader’s device. Readers will not be able to take screenshots of the pages. Professional-grade testing to verify app piracy has been done and these will be done periodically,” said Bhattacharya who is currently based in the UK.