21 May 2020  |   05:26am IST

Maybe a new day beckons

The day is not far perhaps when an author will present his latest work online and where fans can purchase it by paying a fee. It has already happened with a new Hindi film to be premiered on a live streaming platform. Cafe spoke to authors and publishers to learn what they felt about this.
Maybe a new day beckons

It is the obvious thing to state that these are strange times. It can be confidently said that there may not be people around you who may have been alive when the world went through something similar. Like the Spanish flu in 1918.

The corona virus is now spreading death and destruction around the world.

Everything as we know it has changed. One of the pleasures of spending time at home was reading a book.

Fiction, non fiction or perhaps even reading and gaining knowledge that could perhaps benefit you in your career. But even that could change.

Khaleel Ahmed the man behind Broadway Book Store smiled when asked how business was. He said over a period of time business had improved considerably. Given that the lockdown was not as strict as it was earlier people he said were now visiting his store. Khaleel said “ They are not coming like before but yes I get around 15 people coming in every day. And they all buy something. No one comes to just look around and check the collection. No one brings their children’. He however said business had to get better and he was serioulsy contemplating the idea of going on line. He said “ It will help me reach an even bigger audience. I have over one lakh titles in the store in various subjects and it will take me a month or two to complete all the work requred before one goes online”. Khaleel said he understood that the world in which we all lived had changed and his business would have to learn to adjust to the changing times.

Frederick Noronha of Goa 1556 an alternate publishing house was of the opinion that people in India and more so in Goa were not into reading ebooks. Perhaps, he said a small percentage in the younger generation. he went on to say they were generally not used to paying for online content, so while creating paper books was increasingly becoming costly, ebooks were not filling the void. he said “ We recently tried to share some out of print books online, gratis and at no charge. The response was so-so, despite these being fairly good, Goa books. I think the problem lies elsewhere we as a society don’t read enough.Till quite recently, books were doing fairly well in Goa. But less-than-helpful support to new writers and publishers from government authorities, added to our poor reading of Goa’s very own stories, àre squeezing the field, and I feel we’re going to see the impact of that”. That may be the opinion of publishers but then what do the writers feel about all this.The doyen of Goan literature Damodar Mauzo said he was presently involved in the printing of a collection of short stories. When asked if he would consider going online to present his work, he said it was an idea whose time had come. he said “ I may like a good old book in my hands bu the world out there goes online a lot. It would help me tap a larger audience. I have just completed a novel and I have to find ways to launch it so that I can reach out to a large audience. The process is being worked out”. Another author Ramesh Ghadi said he intended to also look at the digital world seriously but it would need a great deal of thinking before he decided to do so. He said “ I dont know how to go about presenting my work online but it is a possibility I will have to seriously consider in the future”.

A publisher who retails books on line since 2016 is Leonard Fernandes co-founder of The Dogears Bookshop.

Business, he said was pretty much close to normal. Leonard said “ People are coming at almost the same rate as they did before the virus. Our sale on line is moving along smoothly but there has been no increase in sales online due to the virus. We get orders for books from people living in the rest of the country and outside”. Speaking about writers presenting their work online, he said the modalities involved were way too may and that was why publishers were present. he said “ There is a lot of meta data that has to be uploaded, and if and when orders come, they have to be fulfilled. Fulfilling it requires meeting various standards. All this cannot be done by the writer”.

Publishing as we know may change and perhaps some software will be launched that will help writers meet their target audience directly. Earlier movies would be screened in theatres where people would sit , eat popcorn and be entertained for a couple of hours. Now a movie featuring Amitabh Bachchan has gone directly to a streaming service, sidelining the theatre. Perhaps the author will do that next, sideling the publisher.

IDhar UDHAR

Idhar udhar