Sapna Infoway, an internet book and education company and the digital arm of book retailer Sapna Book House, plans to raise between $5 million and $10 million (Rs 60 crore) in about six months to fund its online business expansion. It is in talks with potential investors, a top company executive said.
Sapna Infoway is engaged in sales of books online under the brand name SapnaOnline.com. It aims to be a hub for vernacular language books, digital content, academic content and e-learning among others.
It will focus on the top eight languages of the country. They include Hindi, Bangla, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Urdu, Marathi and Gujarati. “The eight languages make up 50 per cent of the population,” said Nijesh Shah, founder and CEO, Sapna Infoway. While these languages are local, the market is global, he added.
Citing an example on the opportunities in this line of business, he told Business Standard that the highest number of Kannada books are exported to Brazil. It had exported over 5,000 books in Kannada to Brazil. Of them, 750-800 books were best sellers.
“It is to Kannadigas settled in Brazil that we sell highest number of our Kannada books. Sometime in September 2014, Sapna sold as many as 3,800 copies of S L Byrappa’s Kannada fiction ‘Yaana’ the very day it was launched,” Nijesh said.
Meanwhile, with self-publishing catching on, the company is looking at the segment as a good revenue stream. About four months ago, the group introduced the concept of graduating from a writer to an author. Nijesh said that the group has been publishing 1.5 books a day.
Sapna forayed into e-commerce in 2012. “It is convenience that people are looking for. For Sapna, it has the inventory of the books that it sells online. We don’t need to procure it from the open market,” said Nijesh.
Sapnaonline.com has eight million unique users. As on December 2014, the group’s online revenue touched the Rs 6.5-7 crore mark.
The education sector is a huge business generator for Sapna. “We saw education as a very big sector and have truly reaped the benefits of investing majorly into it. We supply to schools and colleges to cover 10,800 institutes. Books are exported to Ghana’s capital city Accra, where we have set up an office. Through that office, we reach out to the four big universities there and also curate content for a year-old Delhi Public School set up there,” points out Nijesh.