While there are a number of options if you want to read books or content in English, the options are much sparser when it comes to our national language Urdu. Until now that is. Kitaab is an app that facilitates e-reading and e-publishing in Urdu.
The app makers claim that Kitaab is the only app that supports not only Urdu but all right-to-left (Persian, Arabic etc.) languages. Along with that, it also supports English, which isn’t surprising given the app’s native support for the ePub ebook format.
Kitaab comes with a vast library of books, covering a plethora of topics. No, they don’t offer pirated books if that’s what you were thinking. All the books are either public-domain, license-free or e-published with prior consent from respective authors or publishers. Which makes Kitaab a platform like Amazon’s and others.
We see an opportunity for more authors and publishing houses to get their Urdu content featured here, helping create a comprehensive ecosystem for those who like consuming content in Urdu.
Since the app targets the Pakistani audience, the default language of the app is Urdu. However, you can change the language to English for your comfort. The slide-out menu contains everything the app has to offer. Let’s delve into details to discover more about it.
- Book Shelf / Kutb Khaana
‘Book Shelf’, as the name says is the section containing all the downloaded books. You can also import books from your phone’s memory and place it on your phone’s book shelf along with other books. Search bar is there to assist you in finding the downloaded e-book from the shelf.
- Online Library
This is where you will find the treasure. Users can find the books by Book ID, genres/topic or you could just scroll through all the books and pick the book for reading. You can’t search for books as there is no search bar in the library section. This is the feature I missed the most, but I think the developer did that on purpose (as there could be spelling differences).
- Bookmarks / Nishanaat
As the name says, it contains all the bookmarks. Bookmark will be shown along with the book name. Single tap on delete will delete the bookmark.
A very handy night/day mode sits at the bottom of the menu that will prevent eye strain. Overall, the interface is very simple but there is a room for improvement.
Experiencing the app
The overall performance was above average though I won’t call it perfect. Turning pages through swiping was taking time longer than expected, and the ugly ‘loading ring’ was seen numerous time while swiping the pages. Surprisingly, I didn’t face such issue while performing the same action from the three-dot drop down menu.
I was able to tinker with the interface as per my likingswhich is very cool. Users can change font size, color, style; background color; line height and adjust the alignment and margin. In-app brightness can also be adjusted from the settings menu to make the reading experience comfortable.
Downloading, reading and sharing the books was a pleasure. Users can also scroll through table of contents and jump to any chapter. As the app requires you to download books, you can read the book offline anywhere anytime without the need of internet connectivity.
The app library is very limited for now. I failed to find any book in Comedy/Mizaah, Fantasy/Tasawwurat, Tragic/Alamnaak and Drama genre which isn’t something to complain as the app is still new. Developers said they are working on it and will try to bring as many book as possible. Future versions of Kitaab are also expected to give a platform to authors to sell their e-books along with a complete Digital Right Management system to control piracy.
There is one notable feature that I feel needs to be mentioned separately. Unlike the usual e-reading app that contains low-quality static scanned images, Kitaab has given a very unique automated TEXT-TO-IMAGE sharing mechanism by which readers can share their favourite text from any book to social media in an image form which is more eye-catching than simple plain text.
Kitaab checks out all the boxes on what one can expect from an Urdu Reader app. With some little tweaks and optimization, it has the potential to be even better. For now, as far as reading Urdu books goes, it’s a great platform that we think can grow bigger. We hope the developers behind Kitaab continue to polish the app and build up a cohesive ecosystem for Urdu books and publications digitally. It’s about time we have one.
You can download it for Android here.