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It's time to read

Vimal Chander Joshi, Oct 30, 2012

With Dussehra break over and Christmas holidays just about round the corner, students in the Capital have got plenty of time to unwind and also to read. Thanks to the proliferation of young Indian authors in the recent past a lot of youngsters, whose attention span is as slim as the thickness of Chetan Bhagat novels, have picked up reading.

Youngsters not only have the luxury of time but are also spoilt for choices across multiple genres. Most of the youngsters belonging to Chetan Bhagat generation – who started reading books only after the amateur author in Bhagat turned ‘professional,’ have now moved on to Rashmi Bansal, Ashwin Sanghi and Amish Tripathi, whose only claim to fame before they sat down to writing was their management degree from one of the IIMs or from a top US B-school.

Regardless of whether we like these authors or not, it’s as difficult to ignore them as to find them on the dias of literary festivals in India or abroad. Anyhow, those who read The Immortals of Meluha couldn’t resist the temptation to read the second part of series, The Secret of the Nagas.

The same holds true for Ashwin Sanghi whose recently released book The Krishna Key was received with as much enthusiasm as his previous two books - The Rosabel Line and Chanakya’s Chant. “My fascination (for new breed of Indian authors) started with the first book by Amish which I finished in a few hours. Later I bought several such books and enjoyed most of them. They are easy-to-read and quite liberating,” said Akshita Chaudhary, a 23-year-old senior executive in a Noida-based IT firm.

Those in the publishing industry call this a prelude to changing dynamics in the industry. “It’s not a particular genre which makes a book popular but its literary quality. “When Chetan Bhagat wrote his first book there was no concept of campus novels in India but it became a rage overnight. Later mythological fiction turned popular when Tripathi’s first novel hit the stores. It requires just one good book in a new genre to rewrite the rules of publishing. For instance, no Indian author is popular for murder mysteries till date but tomorrow if one someone writes a good murder mystery, that will surely be lapped up by many of us, thus triggering a new fad,” said Sudheshna Shome Ghosh, executive editor of Rupa Publications.

Recently, one non-Indian book which flew off the shelves was Fifty Shades of Grey leading to speculation that soft porn is ‘in.’ “Most of the people read it only because it had already become popular at international fora. There is always a curiosity among Indian readers to find out why a particular book turned a huge hit in other parts of the world. But when those readers felt disappointed by the book, they didn’t pick up the other two parts of the same trilogy - Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed,” said Gunjan Veda, co-author of Beautiful Country: Stories from Another India and CEO, Indiareads.com.

While talking about the popularity of IIM-educated authors, Veda adds, “It’s the low pricing which worked in favour of these novelists. Youngsters don’t mind spending money on a book as long as it’s within the range of Rs 100 but if the price reaches Rs 500 they get sceptical and rather splurge that amount on a movie ticket or in a coffee shop than pick a book to read.”


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