Al Kutub is the latest site for the Middle-east all dealing with ebooks, but what makes Al Kutub different from the rest is that the site acts more as a search engine rather than actually hosting the digital books on its servers. It functions by initiating an online search for the requested title and procures it from multiple sources such as forums, sellers, or even social sites such as Facebook. It’s designed to display the ebooks using iframe technology, where Arabic language titles are shown in PDF format.
Users won’t be aware of where the ebook has been sourced from; they won’t even be served the link of the ebook source, which is a clever move as this will ensure users remain tied to the Al Kutub site. Nevertheless, the venture has already attracted a lot of attention, having garnered a subscriber base of more than 10,000 in just a span of 12 days. Mohammed Nemat Allah, who has been associated with Al Kutub for the past three years, has stated they plan to build a database of 120,000 or more titles, which will also include audiobooks as well. Nemat Allah is also confident that their business model is perfectly safe, claiming anyone who has issues with the books showing up on his site can go remove the ebook from the source site first.
Al Kutub has a four tier usage model where users won’t be charged anything for reading and downloading scanned copies. Soon users will be charged on a periodic basis for reading and downloading the books. Users will also have the option of placing an order for the paperback version of the ebook via Al Kutub. Lastly, users will be able to place an order for the paper version from Sour Al Uzbakiya, which happens to be a book hub in Egypt that hosts some of the oldest and rarest books from the region.
Al Kutub also has other ambitious plans which include launching a social networking service having its own messaging and notification center. There will be a reading group where members can engage in discussions pertaining to books. The site will also let users read or borrow content online, while making such activity (including comments) visible to everyone or set to private friends. Nemat Allah also revealed a plan to diversify to other languages such English, German, Spanish, and Chinese in future. The site is currently in its beta stages and the final version will be launched soon. An iOS and Android Al Kutub app will be made available.