“So many books, so little time.”

“So many books, so little time.”

With the Covid-19 outbreak the whole world has changed. Compelled to stay indoors within the four walls, people are picking new hobbies or using their old interest to keep themselves positively occupied. From cooking, gardening, painting, painting, cleaning to upskilling people are trying many things. For the booklovers this lockdown was a boon time as now they had “all the time” — but not many books.

Lettering stay home. young woman in medical mask reading book ...
Image Courtesy: Free Pik

With bookstores closed, warehouses locked, printing press in standstill the solace is going online. Major publishers have also gone online setting up exclusive e-book stores on Amazon India in partnership with Kindle and other such platforms.

But one cannot keep a book lover away from the physical books. People like Biju Balakrishnan convert their car into a mobile library. College professor Biju loads the trunk of his Maruti Alto with books selected from his collection of 6000 books and delivers books to 7 panchayats in Parassala, near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

Pic Courtesy: The Hindu

This also brings to focus on the literature world, which like most of the industry has changed and been affected by the digital world. While people have started reading, but there is a huge shift from printed books to digitial screens. One of the major challenge for the authors is now to catch attention and then retain it. With digital media providing today people are now spoilt for choices both on reading as well as watching. Authors now are competing for screen space – with YouTube/Netflix/TikTok to Kindle/eBooks and more.

While the world will open up it will be interesting to see what will happen to public events like Jaipur Lit Festival (which is now the worlds largest lit fest) gives an exposure on multiple areas.

Having attended the Jaipur Literature Festival for now last 10 years I have seen it grow not just in terms of the number of people attending but also in terms of the varied content and new events. Attending such events give first-hand experience and opportunity to engage and connect with people across age and class who come for varied reasons – meeting authors to taking selfies / autographs with celebrities to shop to hang around with their friends or just soak in the vibrancy.

For me the Jaipur Literary Festival has been a must attend event, Sharing some of my favourite takeaways from one of the seasons.

1. Always talk the language of the people!

Former AP journalist, Neelesh Misra who has now set up a rural newspaper called ‘Gaon Connection’ said that people love to see a story from their point of view. Speaking at a session at Jaipur Lit Fest called ‘The Kahani connection: Stories of my Stories”, Mishra said that it’s important to talk in the language of the people.

Neelesh Misra in conversation with journalist Rahul Pandita

2. Why social reality is not the same as social media!

In a well-attended debate on “We are living in a Post-Truth World”, moderated by Barkha Dutt, adman and lyricist, Prasoon Joshi said that the social reality of a place comes out through social media. Joshi said that different realities are getting expressed through social media and we must accept their validity.

Google has democratized knowledge: Prasoon Joshi at Jaipur Literary Fest, 2017

3. Bias in storytelling matters: Truth and the newsroom

In a session titled, “Truth and the Newsroom”, journalists raised the issue of bias, saying whether you are narrating facts or stories; bias or filters exist for every writer or journalist.

Senior Zee TV journalist Sudhir Chaudhary (seen above), said, rather bluntly, that when sales teams entered the newsroom, that’s when news got abused.

4. Be ready to change the storyline!

Speaking on narratives from a filmmaker’s perspective in ‘The Art of Screenplay’, the advice is “Be ready to change your screenplay” at the behest of stars and studios. The takeaway for PR professionals here is to be open to adapting to new narratives.

Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali at the Jaipur Lit Fest

5. History can be rewritten: A brand can be retold

In a session titled, “Rewriting History: The art of historical fiction”, panelists talked about the importance of retelling stories from fresh perspectives. An important lesson for communicators trying to reposition a brand.

Retelling old tales. Vikram and Vetal props await to tell their tale again to a new audience of children

Anup Sharma (@TweetsAnup)
The author is a StoryTeller with two decades of experience in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. He is also the Senior Director at Public Relations Consultants Association of India

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