In today’s digital age books are read on Kindle and desktop computers, but another installment to it could be the cell phone novel, where books can be delivered on cell phones on a chapter-by-chapter basis.
On the final day of the Delhi Gymkhana Literature Festival, writers brainstormed on the future of books and debated how the traditional books continue to be cherished in the age of e-books.
Sunil Sethi, Journalist and columnist, revealed big publishers like Chiki Sarkar, the former head of Penguin India, who has launched a new publishing venture ‘Juggernaut’, are onto something new.
“Chiki’s idea is even more interesting, she says you can break a novel into installments. Why can’t you make an appointment, for instance on Friday night on your cellphones and that chapter will be delivered to you.”
Earlier, authors like Charles Dickens or Premchand wrote series of stories in newspaper which kept on appearing for years, he pointed out.
Vikas Swarup, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, and author of the novel Q & A which was adapted into multiple Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire said the experiment could be feasible.
He pointed out that the Japanese are thinking of doing something on the similar lines.
“In Japan, they will be releasing the most revolutionary TV series in the history on Instagram. Each video will be of 30 seconds, you can watch the series in seven and a half minutes” he said.
Swarup argued that the cell phone novel can come extremely handy for travellers citing the example of Japan where he had a stint as an IFS officer.
“In Japan, everybody travels for 35-40 minutes in Metro trains, so you can read it on the go,” he said.
Jaishree Misra, author, who was part of the panel, supported the idea. She said this could be the future and this is what the publishers are also demanding - to write short stories.
“I think that is the future, this is the last frontier in the usage of this beautiful device (mobile). My publishers are also asking me to think small.”
However, Milan Vora, who became the first Indian to be published by Mills and Boon, said writing short stories can be a challenge. However, this newly-conceived idea of releasing books in parts on the web didn’t go down well with some in the audience who cited a number of drawbacks.
“If someone does not like the story, then the publisher might force you to change the contents,” said an audience member.
“Downloading a content on the cell phone is okay but there are certain books like Jeffrey Archer’s and Dan Brown’s, you have to wait for it chapter after chapter.
“It may be good for younger generation who get on to the cell phone and computer and read books. For us, we want a substantive part in our hands,” he said.
Anuja Chauhan, who has authored Those Pricey Thakur Girls, couldn’t agree more. She said she feels “secure” when she knows she “can go back to it.”
Another audience member who favoured the traditional books over the digital version said, “I got the copy of this book and have got it autographed by the author, but if I download the same book, I can’t get it autographed,” he remarked.