17 December 2014

Bookmate partners StarHub in first launch in Asia Pacific

Source: Bookmate. From left: Simon Dunlop, Founder, Bookmate, Andrew Baev, Managing Director, Bookmate and Michael Sim, Lead Futurist, i3 (Innovation, Investment, Incubation), StarHub at the launch of Bookmate - the social ebook reading service – in partnership with StarHub in Singapore on December 17.

Bookmate, a social e-book reading service, is now available in Singapore, its first port of call in Southeast Asia. The service boasts over half a million e-books from 600 publishers, and allows subscribers to read as many books as they like for a flat monthly fee.

Simon Dunlop, Founder of Bookmate, shared that people currently read between one and one and a half books a month, and typically have approximately four books open at any one time, dipping into each at will. 

He added that Bookmate wants to bring the mobile, social and subscription trends together, and noted that reading on-the-go is very common today. “Our mission is to make reading easy, accessible and fun for everyone with a smartphone. By expanding into Singapore, we have made a significant first step in increasing Bookmate’s footprint in Southeast Asia and thanks to our partnership with StarHub and their highly engaged customers, we will be able to reach millions of new readers," he said.

Michael Sim, Lead Futurist–Entertainment of i3 (Innovation, Investment, Incubation), StarHub said that the company wants to make book streaming as common as music streaming. StarHub i3 offers businesses go-to-market services, including funding, incubation facilities, mentorship, business networking, both in Singapore and overseas.

“Singapore consumers are fast growing accustomed to getting easy access to an unfettered catalogue of premium online content, for instance, video and music streaming, across multiple devices for a flat monthly fee. This advancement is changing the way people consume content, and we believe the time is ripe to bring this same convenience to book fans, providing a timely boost to Singapore’s e-book scene,” Sim said. 

A Bookmate office will open in Singapore in January, and the company plans to move into Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia next. "We think that Singapore has a very progressive culture and is very familiar with smartphone adopters. It's an ideal place to base our operations in Southeast Asia," Dunlop said.

Bookmate’s move into Singapore follows its agreement with HarperCollins, announced earlier this year, which saw Bookmate add hundreds of new authors to the service. Besides HarperCollins, the service features books Head of Zeus, Profile Books, Serpent’s Tail, and also offers content from local publishers such as Marshall Cavendish and Monsoon.

The Bookmate service is open to everyone and offers customers to privilege of accessing its content under three subscription tiers – Free, Standard and Premium. The Standard tier costs S$9.98/month and provides hundreds of thousands of fiction and non-fiction titles, including the seminal Why Nations Fail by Robinson and Acemoglu. The Premium tier at S$15.98 /month adds on thousands of business and professional books, such as Donald Trump’s Think Big, Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, and the Economist series.

The concept is similar to a gym subscription, where people pay for the privilege to use the gym but do not actually own any of the equipment. Similarly, Bookmate subscribers are paying for the privilege of reading the e-books but do not own the books themselves. Access to downloaded e-books is only provided as long as the Bookmate subscription is active. 

As part of its international expansion strategy, Bookmate is partnering exclusively with Singapore info-communications provider StarHub to introduce its book-streaming service to the local reading community and engage local publishers to offer their books on the platform. "Today is just the start of a very long partnership with them," Sim said at the launch. "We're helping to extend their services in the region as well." 

Through the partnership between Bookmate and StarHub, StarHub Hub iD users can enjoy an introductory rate of S$8/month for the Standard Tier, and S$14/month for the Premium tier. Registration for a Hub iD is open to all at www.starhub.com/hubid. From now till 23 December, the first 500 customers who register online at www.bookmate.com will enjoy full access to all e-books on the Standard tier free, for 30 days.

StarHub's Booktique brand, which offers 'ala carte e-books' is now replaced by the Bookmate proposition. Booktique still remains for StarHub's e-magazine offering, Sim said. 

The Bookmate app, available for free download on Apple App Store and Google Play, includes a social feed that allows users to follow their friends, favourite authors and celebrities on Bookmate, while also sharing their favourite books and passages. The service is also available through a supported web browser.