From online literature festivals to author interactions -- Things publishers are doing during lockdown
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Books are a saviour…there is no denying that. In fact, at times, when in despair, books often comes as a therapeutic relief. And in these gloomy and troublesome time owing to the global coronavirus pandemic, what better way than to escape to a fictional world away from all the tragedy or even read an inspiring tale which offers hope for a better tomorrow. While several readers across the globe have already filled up their bookshelves or stocked their kindles, publishers are doing their best to make use of the virtual world with several online activities for eager bibliophiles.

Like, for instance, Juggernaut Books in association with Scroll, will be holding, what can be called as, India’s first online literary festival. The month-long #Readinstead litfest, which goes live on March 27 (Friday) at 12 pm will see a participation from Juggernaut’s popular authors conducting masterclasses, workshops and competitions along with bookish conversations. Speaking about this initiative, Chiki Sarkar, publisher and co-founder of Juggernaut and Simran Khara, Chief Executive Officer, said that their aim was to get “more people reading and to find new ways to bring the magic of books and reading to them”.

Juggernaut recently made its vast catalogue of books free for month—you can visit their site to access the book of your choosing for free reading online.

Juggernaut is not the only publishing house which is trying to unite readers across the country in this challenging time. Roli Books is also has a lot of online activities planned for readers. At 12 noon everyday, their editors are live on their Instagram account (@rolibooks) conducting live chats, giving book recommendations and more. You can visit their Facebook (@RoliBooksIndia) and Twitter handle (@RoliBooks). Several of their authors will also be posting videos about books and more on their social media handle. Participating authors are Tanushree Podder, Swapan Seth, Sujata Assonull, Shrabani Basu, Naresh Fernandes, Karam Puri, Cosmo Brockway, Paro Anand and Radhika Karle.

We spoke to the bestselling author Paro Anand about her thoughts on this initiative.

“I am virtually out of my comfort zone when it comes to online tech. I try and spend about 50% of my time interacting with young people. Face to face, heart to heart. So suddenly there is half of me missing. But my discovery is this: Some people who may never have had the courage to ask the face to face questions openly are finding it in the anonymity of social media. So while I miss the actual, the virtual has opened a new window. And so I will brave the tech and think INSIDE the box,” she said.

Publishing giant Penguin has partnered with Gurgaon Moms for a #stayathome campaign where Gurgaon Moms will host select Penguin authors on their digital platforms for masterclasses, short video on quarantine reads, etc. Deepak Dalal will be live on March 27 at 11 am, Sri M on March 30, 11 am and Ruskin Bond on April 1 at 11 am. Visit Gurgaon Moms Facebook page here.

Hachette India also has several activities planned for the next 20 days. The publishing house with their #IndiaReadsAtHome is encouraging readers to read books they’ve been meaning to pick up, discover a new author or genre or binge read a new series. In addition, there will be activities everyday like recommendations, trivia challenges, would-you-rathers and more (visit their Instagram on hachette_india). Readers can also give suggestions on what they would like to see on their channels, authors they would like to meet and pledge what they’ll be reading for the next few weeks .

From online literature festivals to author interactions -- Things publishers are doing during lockdown
Anwesha Mitra

There will also be an online children’s literary festival which will include Q/A sessions, readings, tutorials and more. March 31 is the tentative date for this. In collaboration with Scroll India, Hachette will be releasing excerpts from local and international books.

Pan Macmillan India also has similar activities planned. Their authors will be putting up videos on their social media handles and readers can post queries and engage with authors online, participate in contests, win free books and more. Follow their Facebook, Instagram (@panmacmillanindia) and Twitter (@PanMacIndia) handles for more updates.

So, what are you waiting for, get online and get your fix of bookish delights, as we get ours, and escape from the harsh reality for a few hours! Happy Reading…

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