Nothing like mother tongue

October 31, 2014 12:00 am | Updated May 24, 2016 12:29 pm IST

Here’s an e-book selling and lending portal for regional languages,

HYDERABAD:TELANGANA: 17/09/2014:Visitors at the State Central Library in Hyderabad on Wednesday


HYDERABAD:TELANGANA: 17/09/2014:Visitors at the State Central Library in Hyderabad on Wednesday


Bob Dylan defines a successful person as someone who gets up in the morning and goes to bed in the night and does what he wants to do in between. Nivetha Padmanaban, the founder and CEO of Pustaka Digital Media is indeed a successful lady. Converting her passion for books into a path breaking venture for online reading community, Nivetha and her husband Padmanaban have started a unique ebook selling and lending portal –

Launched recently, the the portal boasts of books in Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu languages. These e-books are available for purchase as well as lending. Nivetha hails from Madurai and in a career spanning more than a decade; she worked in many leading IT companies till she found her calling in the land of books. Speaking about the motivation behind this start-up, Nivetha explains, “I have been an avid reader of books since a very young age. After I moved to Bangalore with my family in 2001, I realised that there weren’t any good libraries around with a good collection of Tamil books. Some of the libraries had the usual popular works but there were several other works that were not showcased enough. So, I decided to venture on my own and started an online lending library. People would order the books they wanted to borrow, and I would have the books delivered to them free of cost. Soon, people started asking if I had collections of Kannada and Telugu books. I realized that there is a lacuna wherein people who do not have an easy access to library may be devoid of reading books.” As an IT employee, she often travelled overseas, and during such travels she realised that there was a pitiful lack of e-books in vernacular languages. Most of the e-books available were in English and for someone interested in reading books written in their own language, there was a dearth of availability. “This finally prompted me to seriously consider opening a portal that exclusively provided e-books in regional languages and not only for sale but also for lending.”

During their research of the current market for e-books, Nivetha and Padmanaban discovered a painful truth. Piracy of books was dealing a huge blow to not only the publishers but also the authors who were being robbed of their royalty for their work. Combating this would be a definite challenge. They put together a team of savvy tech engineers and developed a secure model for sharing e-books online. Padmanaban explains: “We wanted our venture to be completely legal. One of the distinguishing factors of Pustaka Digital Media is that, the authors are given royalty not only for the sale of the books, but also for the lends. This is probably the first model that pays authors whenever subscribers borrow their books to read. We have legally obtained the consent and permission for selling and lending the books that are currently available on our portal and are in the process of obtaining more titles.”

Speaking of the initial responses, “The responses from the subscribers have been very promising. Our efforts have been highly appreciated and it was heartening to see many authors come forward and give us permissions to host their books on our portal. Most of the young generation authors have been very receptive. However, with senior authors, we had to explain our technological approach to them and convince them of the security and viability of this concept. ” Pustaka portal offers a very secure medium for reading the books. The subscribers cannot download the books and hence it checks the instances of piracy. Each author has access to the details pertaining to the number of subscribers who have either purchased or borrowed their respective books. This transparency has won over many authors who have come forward to provide the copyrights for several of their works. The team also includes language advisors in regional languages who are consulted on the choice of books and authors.

On occasion of the Karnataka Rajyotsava, Pustaka portal will be introducing books written by two Kannada authors – Vidyashankar and Hemanand Halligeri, and also begin hosting Malayalam books. Nivetha and Padmanaban share an exciting vision for Pustaka. “We want Pustaka Portal to become synonymous with books all over the world. Our portal has to a one-stop shop for readers of any language of India. We hope to digitize some of the rare artefacts and literary works so that these priceless collections can be preserved for the future generations. But underlying all these ambitions is our burning desire to enable readers to have ready access to books that they want to read no matter where they are.”

Pustaka Digital Media’s online portal shall be watched closely as an example of how personal passions can be realized into trendsetting ventures that create a collaborative framework between readers, authors, technology and literature!

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