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Updated: October 15, 2013 11:43 IST

Virtual world of words

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Sharing his love: M. A. Parthasarathy and the Sangapalagai homepage. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan
The Hindu
Sharing his love: M. A. Parthasarathy and the Sangapalagai homepage. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

Here’s an ebooks store that focusses on Tamil books. Check out Sangapalagai, that’s now available on Apple’s App Store…

Sangapalagai is now available on the Apple App Store for download on iPad, iPod and iPhone. Well, what is Sangapalagai, you might ask. And that’s what this story is all about…

Sangapalagai is the brainchild of M.A. Parthasarathy, photo journalist-turned-ad film maker–turned entrepreneur. Five years ago, while working with JS Films, he hit upon the idea of starting an online shopping option for Tamil books. And that thought fructified as Sangapalagai, an online eBook store.

Says the soft-spoken Parthasarathy, “Basically, I am a bookworm. As I discovered the ebook concept and started downloading books on my iPad, I realised the benefits of this process. It is eco-friendly (no paper), you can get a whole book with just a click and start reading at once, no matter which part of the world you are in. That’s when I felt there was a lacuna in the Tamil books sphere. After some initial research, I began approaching publishers and authors and slowly built a library and that’s how Sangapalagai took shape. The site offers magazines too.”

Two-pronged aim

Parthasarathy, the lens man who more famously photographed the Rajiv Gandhi assassination site which appeared in every publication across the globe, says, “The App’s aim is two-pronged -- connect Indians all over the world virtually, and provide an avenue of expression for writers and publishers. Here is an opportunity for people living abroad to access Tamil books and for parents to initiate their wards into Tamil literature.”

Like any other App, Sangapalagai can be downloaded free from App Store. Once installed, a user has to sign up and acquire credit. “It’s like a pre-paid coupon,” explains Parthasarathy. “For example, if you opt for 100 points, you can buy books worth about Rs. 650. Members can choose a book/magazine and pay by Apple App store/PayPal/credit card, download and read it at once.” Once, that’s done, you enter a world of words that’s virtual.

Readers get to sample two books for free – ‘Bharatiar Kavidhaigal’ and ‘Avvaiyar Athichoodi.’ Today, the online store has over 75,000 registered users across the globe, including Pakistan and Japan, who can access over 2,000 titles ranging from the masters such as Sujatha, Indira Parthasarathy and Pattukottai Prabhakar to first-time authors. And every time a new book is added to the list, mailers are sent to the members. And what’s more, there are gifting options available too.

Sangapalagai has tied up with many top writers and publishers and is working on acquiring more books. Some features include a specially designed Reader software, full IP/copyright protection and an anti-piracy initiative.

So how does the operation work for the parties concerned? Replies Parthasarathy, “We work on a revenue sharing basis. We tie up with authors and publishers and pay them royalty accordingly. Since the payment transaction is done by a third party bank, all the transactions are transparent. We give admin access (User name Password) to the authors/publishers so that they can monitor sales directly. All the author/publisher has to do is give us the PDF of the book. The rest of the operation is ours to handle.”

Harishankar of Smackall Games (a Chennai-based mobile games developer) has pitched in with software development.

How have authors responded to Sangapalagai, you wonder. “Surprisingly, the older authors have been more forthcoming and enthusiastic about this project compared to the younger ones,” says Parthasarathy, who also runs an event management outfit, which has been responsible for some of the recent celebrity cricket matches.

The entrepreneur is also looking at possibilities of adding other language books to the e-store, including Telugu and Kannada. Talks are on and he hopes something will come to fruition soon.

For Parthasarathy, who is married to ‘Vietnam Veedu’ Sundaram’s daughter Anu, herself a costume designer, Sangapalagai is not just about being in business. It’s about sharing his love for books with like-minded people and on a larger plane, preserving the Tamil written word for Gen Next and keeping it alive.

So, if you are a book lover or an author hoping to reach out to many readers, Sangapalagai could provide answers.

For more information, contact Parthasarathy at 044- 28158345 or log on to or email

The article was corrected for an error.

Good endeavour. It should grow faster. My best wishes. I am keen on read all Bharariyar
related articles,books, bharathiyar articles in swadesamitran .

from:  P Natrajan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2013 at 08:40 IST
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