A news item in a daily quoted the President of South India Publishers Association saying that 80% of the visitors to the book fair held in Chennai consisted of youth. According to the report 60% of the annual sales of small publishers come from such fairs. No wonder that such fairs are becoming popular even in smaller towns in India.
In the last few months I have attended Literary Festivals in Bangalore & Chennai. I was pleasantly surprised to see the huge turnout of visitors, consisting mainly of youngsters in the age group 18-35. A large number of them were attending the three parallel sessions being held at the fairs. During the breaks there were long queues of youngsters waiting to get the books of their favorite authors signed by them.
I wondered what has triggered this great enthusiasm among the youth for books; disproving the theory that reading habits among the younger generation is going down. I am inclined to give credit for this to the success of Mrs. Rowling and her Harry Potter series of Fantasy fiction and our own banker turned author and a youth icon- Chetan Bhagat. Chetan has literally re written the way the publishing industry has been functioning in India. For a long time a book was considered a big success if it sold 5000 to 10000 copies. But today the new age authors like Chetan Bagat, Amish Tripathy, Ashwin Sanghi, etc are claiming sales of lakhs copies for each of their books. It is interesting to learn that all the famous authors of today had their first manuscripts rejected by several publishers and had to resort to self- publishing their first book and market them using innovative marketing strategies. Listening to many of these successful authors at Literary Festivals, it is clear that if an author wants to be on the best seller list he has to market his book `shamelessly`. It is imperative that such authors must be active on social media. Self publishing & Print on demand have brought about a sea change in the publishing industry.
Another reason for the huge sale of books is the facility to order the books online and get them delivered at your door step- very often at a discounted price! Amazon & Flipcart have been hugely responsible for this phenomenon and are very popular with the young generation who order everything-` from pin to elephant` including books, online.
No wonder that the number of Indian authors is growing by leaps and bounds. People from diverse fields, including school students are trying their hands at writing. Recently I attended a function organized by TIE in Chennai at which books of 9 first time authors were released. They had participated in a Book Authoring workshop conducted by Kirubha Shanker considered as the Czar of social media. The nine successful authors who had accepted the 100 day challenge of Kirubha included an 8 year old girl and a 12 year old boy. I was also happy to note that 80% of the audience at the function consisted of youngsters who were keen to participate in such workshops.