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If you are from India and you own a kindle device or have a kindle reader installed on your tablet, you would have noticed that the only books from India that you will find on Kindle store are the ones in English.

While pumping billions of dollars in to India for promoting their services/products including Kindle devices, Amazon does not seem to notice the fact that India produces/sells more books in Indian languages than in English. While they want masses of India to buy all kinds of products on Amazon.in, they seem to reserve the intellectual pursuits such as reading only to the English reading subset.

Here is the list of languages supported by Amazon Kindle, most of them using Western European Scripts, except for Japanese :

Afrikaans Dutch/Flemish Irish Provençal
Alsatian Eastern Frisian Italian Romansh
Basque English Japanese Scots
Bokmål Norwegian Finnish Luxembourgish Scottish Gaelic
Breton French Manx Spanish
Catalan Frisian Northern Frisian Swedish
Cornish Galician Norwegian Welsh
Corsican German Nynorsk Norwegian
Danish Icelandic Portuguese

While Amazon lets publishers upload pdf files ( apart from epub files ) to Kindle Store, you cannot even upload a pdf version of a book in Indian language to Kindle store. Technical issues such as rendering difficulties cannot be cited as the reason for this restriction, as pdf rendering is straight forward and does not need any specific language support. I would only speculate that Amazon does not want to employ any body on their staff who can have a cursory look at an Indian language pdf and ensure that it does not contain pornography. I cannot think of any other explanation for this restriction on uploading even a pdf file of a book in Indian language to Kindle store.

Apple iBooks supports a wide variety of languages, but none of the Indian languages have managed to make it to their list. It is interesting to see that, while all recent versions of Mac OS and all the recent devices from Apple have pretty good support for Indian scripts, Apple does not seem to be keen on announcing support for Indian scripts in iBooks. So, if you are a publisher or reader of books in Indian languages, you are out of luck with Apple as well.

Here is the list of languages supported by Apple iBooks:

Brazilian Portuguese Dutch Italian Russian
British English English Japanese Slovakian
Catalan Finnish Korean Spanish
Chinese (Simplified) French Malay Swedish
Chinese (Traditional) German Norwegian Thai
Croatian Greek Polish Turkish
Czech Hungarian Portuguese(Portugal) Ukrainian
Danish Indonesian Romanian Vietnamese

While Thai, which has less number of speakers than most Indian languages have, is supported, none of the Indian languages are supported.

Curiously, Apple indicates specifically that the following languages are NOT supported and Tamil and Urdu have the distinction of being the chosen ones among the Indian languages for explicit non-support!

Amharic Persian(Farsi) Sinhala
Arabic Hebrew Tamil
Aramaic Khmer Urdu
Burmese Lao Malay(Jawi/Arabic Script)

Rendering Indic scripts does not remain a technical challenge any more and most computer systems have had the ability to render Indic scripts decently for the past 7-8 years. So, it is very strange that the mainstream ebook players still want to ignore the Indian languages and do not want to invest their energy in bringing Indian language support to their ebook platforms.

It is some relief that Google Play Books and Kobo do not restrict content in Indian languages.

I am puzzled what could be a reasonable response from the Indian market to this indifference or what would help Amazon and Apple see the importance of Indian languages for their India strategy.