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Amazon launches used books in India to tap smaller town readers

Has launched a dedicated section for used books on its platform in India

Amazon India

Alnoor Peermohamed Bengaluru
Amazon has launched a dedicated section for used books on its platform in India as it looks to make inroads into the country’s semi-urban and rural markets.

Just as the company pioneered the concept of online selling by shipping books in the late 1990s, it is now deploying the same model to crack the price-sensitive Indian market with affordable, used textbooks and novels. Amazon India says it has 100,000 titles of used books on its platform.

“With this launch, reading enthusiasts across the country can now buy used books with the same ease and convenience as buying new books,” said Noor Patel, director of category management at Amazon India.

Amazon says book sales on its platform have grown 20 times over the past three years since the company launched its services in India. It now has millions of titles and 9,400 sellers of books on its platform, making it the country’s largest book store. Sharad Churamani, founder of, a portal that sells used books, says Amazon’s entry would make the sector more organised.

“As of now, most sellers on Amazon are selling imported books, titles that are not available in India,” Churamani adds. “The shipping costs are high. You will hardly be left with any money”

So far, Amazon has been listing only fiction on its site. However, India is largely dominated by textbooks in the offline world.

K-12 school books are estimated to account for 71 per cent of the total market, while higher education books account for another 22 per cent, Nielsen said on India’s book market in March 2016.

Amazon's closest rival in India, Flipkart, says it picked books to kick off its service as books are easy to ship and something everyone wants. With India’s semi-urban and rural logistics infrastructure yet to be developed, books could once again become the key that opens up such markets.

As competition in India’s e-commerce market grows, Amazon is looking at ways to diversify its business and overtake market leader Flipkart. Both companies have been burning billions of dollars to fight for the lead as urban consumers demand lower prices and haven’t yet built an allegiance to any one brand.

To solve the problem of customer retention, Amazon recently launched its Prime loyalty service in India, to try and target its services to repeat online shoppers. The service, which has had global success, could be a potential game changer for Amazon in the country, helping it edge past Flipkart.

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First Published: Aug 11 2016 | 12:11 AM IST

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