The Indian Reading Culture, as previously discussed in one of our posts- India’s English Reading Culture: Present Day Scenario, has evolved magnificently over the last few decades. Earlier, readers came to know of new books through word of mouth from family and friends or through monthly or weekly periodicals or simply while browsing through the bookstores. They had no access to information on books beyond these sources. The biggest downside to this was that the readers had to heavily depend on physical sources, which are not easily accessible to everyone, not only for getting information on the latest books but also for buying them.
But as the times advanced, we were all gifted by one of the humanity’s greatest gifts – the Internet. The advent of the internet and social media have completely revolutionised the book industry and the world of literature. And with this the promotional patterns of events in the world of literature has changed drastically, for example, there are new platforms that are entirely dedicated for book promotions such as Goodreads, Booklikes, Book Depository, NetGalley, KDP, etc. Even the more popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and blogging sites like Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr have gone a long way in helping authors and publishers around the globe in “getting the word out” for their titles.
On Goodreads, Booklikes and NetGalley, authors and publishers enlist their books and readers across the globe get to not only read about new books and book details but also to update their current reads, facility to create shelves and add to them the books they want to read and the update the books they have read. They also get to review and rate the books they’ve read and also the chance to interact with their favourite authors through questions and answers or conversation threads.
On Instagram, and even Facebook and Twitter, readers can upload beautiful pictures of the books they own and post their reviews or thoughts on those books and discuss the same with fellow readers. Even publishers and authors regularly update their profiles and timelines to keep their audiences updated about their ongoing and upcoming events.
Most of these platforms, especially Goodreads, Blogs and Instagram, can be linked to other platforms such as Facebook so whatever one posts on either of the former it also gets automatically uploaded in the latter which helps propagate the posts to reach a larger audience. Readers, Publishers, Authors also use YouTube in the same way as Instagram but the main mode of sharing is through videos.
Recently, a new social platform for smartphones was launched called Litsy. It is an amalgamation of Instagram and Goodreads and promises lots of new things to its users.
Publishers, authors and readers also take to social media to share new book releases, critique appreciations, book-related event details, exclusive insights and behind the scenes photos and sneak-peeks, etc. Bloggers too play a big role in book promotions through various new ways such as cover and excerpt reveals, blog tours, hosting guest posts, featuring author profiles and author interviews.Giveaways of print books, e-books, audio books or book merchandises receive such huge responses that now many publishers and authors periodically turn to this technique of promotions to connect with the masses.
These posts attract readers’ attention very effectively. Readers turn to various book-related bloggers to read the reviews before making new purchases or issuing books from their libraries.
Apart from these posts, nowadays, book trailers are released to spread the word around to the readers in all parts of the world. Books come alive beyond words through these platforms and create a mark in their readers’ mind. creates a huge buzz in the reading community.
All these features, posts and videos, etc. help in creating an extremely effective buzz in the reading community.
Today, book reviewers and critics have the means to share their thoughts and analysis of books in front of the worldwide reading community. Book lovers, from all parts of the world, are now free to interact with one another in a more intimate, though virtual, manner and share their love for their favourite books.
Even the book reading clubs have become online, connecting readers from all nooks and corners of the world. Generally, these reading rooms are operating through WhatsApp, the currently trending messaging app. These reading rooms choose a book weekly/monthly, read together and discuss the various aspects of the books — the plus points, the drawbacks, the central theme and the likes.
Earlier readers knew their favourite authors only through the book the latter writes. But now the authors indulge in regular interactions with their readers through Instagram/Facebook posts or live videos or YouTube interaction videos, interviews and the likes.
With the advent and regular updates and upgrades of social media, reading culture is also upgrading.
Would Dickens or Tagore have ever dreamt that books would be shared over electronic mails or instant messaging and readers would get to interact with authors without having to attend physical author events? We don’t think so.
What are your thoughts about today’s progressive reading culture? Share your thoughts below.