Nepal’s population of close to 30 million spread out across the Himalayan republic presents its own unique logistical problems for bookstores and publishers.
The capital, Kathmandu, is the largest city with just 1.5 million residents (3 million for the wider urban area) and the next biggest city, Pokhara, comes in with a population of just 200,000.
This is not ideal territory for book distribution, yet as I’ve explored previously here at TNPS, publishers have yet to embrace digital in any meaningful way, despite 250 Nepalese an hour going online for the first time.
In that June post I noted that
The number of Nepalese online is currently just shy of 17 million.
And growing fast.
That’s equivalent to the entire population of the Netherlands, or four times the population of New Zealand, with lots of room for expansion.
Not a market to be sneezed at.
For book markets like Nepal, long hindered by the very real limitations of the analogue print model, digital represents an opportunity to reach readers in unprecedented numbers both at home and abroad.
That may be about to change.
This week Nepal gets its first online bookstore, Kitab Yatra, which translates as Book Journey in English), and has the motto, now books will travel to your doorstep.
In an ambitious move, Rishiram Adhikari, CEO of Kitab Yatra explained that the operation had partnered with Khalti Digital Wallet to facilitate payments from the website or mobile app, and is offering free delivery of books anywhere in the country within three days, with COD an option in some areas, and also offering worldwide delivery.
The site offers titles in both local languages and English.
While today’s press release suggests the store has just gone live it was incorporated in 2017 and does have some blog history dating back to September of this year, but the site appears to be a work in progress with an as yet small selection of books..