Of e-reading apps and the mobile phone – by Kiran Manral


Let me confess at the very outset that I am a dinosaur. I love my print and paper with a passion and eschewed all things digital for the longest time. When the e-reading revolution happened and people ran arms outstretched to e-reading devices, I was the one snarling in the corner, saying Over My Dead Body.

The screen I thought, was too small, the light too distracting, the constant notifications from messages too intrusive. And then I had an epiphany. It came during a doctor’s visit. Like all specialists in India. The appointment was just a token number. The actual time we would be ushered into the hallowed presence of the doctor was anybody’s guess.

And so we sat and waited. And waited. I could feel the roots grow out of my rear end pasted to the seat and reach down into the plastic seeking food and water. At one point, I had run out of conversation and was watching the huge screen set on one entire wall which was helpfully set to the channel with a daily soap that the receptionist at the clinic was watching with her jaw half way to her knees.

I fished out my mobile phone as a last refuge to stave me off from immediate boredom and certain death. On an impulse, I downloaded a reading app on the phone. I found an old classic I had long wanted to re-read and settled down to it. When we were called in to see the doctor I almost snarled at them for breaking into my reading.

Somewhere along the line, my resistance to e-reading crumbled and an e-reading device was bought. But I found I ended up rarely using it for the simple reason that it meant one more gadget to be carried along, and one more charger adding weight to the already overloaded handbag. I was only reading from it in the night when I was home, and that I was doing with my beloved print and paper books anyway.

The phone is where I was to be found for the major part of the day. It made complete sense for me to download books on the phone and read them in the various pockets of time one got through the day to fill—in traffic jams, while travelling, while waiting for someone, at a tear-inducingly boring movie that the offspring had dragged one to watch, at an event where one had done one’s hello how are yous and could now retreat to a corner and either snore or read until it was time to leave.

An article in the Wall Street Journal bears me out. It isn’t the e-reader that’s going to be driving book sales. It is the phone reader.

I also found it strangely comforting to be able to hold my phone with one hand and read. An e-reading device was slightly larger than the snug fit of one hand that the phone offered. I found it more convenient to be able to use the same device I use to for my emails and WhatsApp rather than to keep switching devices in the midst of the reading process to check incoming emails and messages.

There are also screen options one can set to reduce eye strain and make it easier to read. Font size can be increased for convenience, something that I find has become an important factor in purchase decision making as I grow older. A print and paper book with too small a font size just doesn’t get picked up by me anymore. I know I will never struggle to read it.

I must confess though that I use phone reading for short bursts of reading. A short story. A book I’ve been trying to finish and never get around to in the regular course of the day. The anytime on the go convenience of being able to search for something one wants wherever one wants is rather tempting; my online library is groaning from unread books.

I so enjoyed reading on the phone, that I did write a few books exclusively for phone e-reading apps. A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up and Switcheroo on Juggernaut.  Saving Maya on Readify. And more to come.

I get asked a lot as to why I took the decision to write for app based readers. I reply, it is because I now enjoy the convenience of reading on my phone. It allows me to read in bits and pieces through the day, anytime anywhere I have my phone with me. I don’t need to consciously take out chunks of time to read.

And I think a lot of readers will agree once they’ve tried reading on the phone.

Vivek RaoOf e-reading apps and the mobile phone – by Kiran Manral
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An interview with Sharath Komarraju

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Sharath is an author of fiction and nonfiction based in Bangalore, India. He is best known for his Hastinapur series, and also for his first novel, Murder in Amaravati, which was longlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2013.

A veteran of over 21 books, many of which have been critically acclaimed, he has been published by some of India’s largest publishing houses. He is also the founder of Write Club – one of India’s largest writing and mentoring clubs.

Tell us about the Sharath before writing happened. What led you to take up writing as a full-time career?

The Sharath before writing happened was not too different to the Sharath of now. I’d like to think I am the same person as before, only that I write now.

I was a reasonably good student throughout school, did engineering at university, and also picked up a Bachelor of Science degree on the way.

After I got my first job, I thought it would be nice to have a hobby. Since I had a laptop with MS Word on it, I figured I had enough equipment to start writing. So I did.

Full-time writing happened as a matter of course, over time. I began writing seriously in 2008, and it was not until 2013 that I gathered enough momentum to quit my day job.

Your books seem to draw the female perspective quite seamlessly for your readers. To what would you attribute this skill of yours? 

When you strip away all the layers, men and women are driven by very similar inner lives. So I write them as people, not as women. For me, they’re human beings with desires and wants that HAPPEN TO BE women.

Of course, because of social conditions, the way a woman approaches a problem is different to the way in which a man does. These differences you glean from observation, experience and reading.

How important do you think it is for the youth to explore Indian mythology? How does it change one’s outlook towards life situations? 

Myths are stories that have refused to die for thousands of years. That means that they must hold some timeless truths. However, I would stop short of saying what is important for whom to read. Everyone should be free to read what they want.

I think all fiction, in some way or the other, give us tools with which to combat what life throws at us.

Do you have a target audience in mind while writing a particular book? Who would be the ideal reader for the books that you write? 

No. I don’t think of target audiences when I write a book. My ideal reader is myself. If I enjoy writing the book, and if I enjoy reading it after I’ve finished it, I figure there will be people out there who will as well.

Having said that, I do think of target audiences and such once I have FINISHED the book and I am looking to promote it.

You must have probably been asked this a lot, but we would love to know where do you get the ideas and draw inspiration from, while writing. 

Imagination is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it will grow. My trick to keep the well of inspiration full is to read every day and write every day.

As a reader, which genres interest you the most? What new genre would you like to venture into? 

I like mysteries, humour, science fiction and horror. I don’t know what genre I want to venture into next. Right now my hands are full with existing projects.

Tell us some lesser known things about you that we’d be surprised to know. 

I am completely anosmic. That means I don’t have the sense of smell!

What interests you besides writing? Also, had you not been a writer what would have been your next best career choice? 

Interests apart from writing are cricket, philosophy, finance, history, art, science, music, poetry – you name it. A writer of fiction is often a generalist; he is interested in everything.

What would have been my next career choice if I had not been a writer? I would probably have continued being an engineer.

What book are you currently working on? What led you to write it and what can your readers expect from your upcoming works? 

I am currently working on a sequel to Money Wise, which tackles the issue of financial wisdom. (Money Wise spoke about financial knowledge and education, so this rounds that off.) I don’t know what led me to write it, I just felt it would be fun to write.

What can readers expect from my upcoming works? Hopefully deeper, more engaging stories.

What suggestions would you give to budding writers so as to develop themselves into successful authors?

My advice for budding writers has always been the same: read a lot, write a lot. This advice is easy to give and difficult to follow, though, which is why we have so many aspiring writers and so few who do it professionally.

Vivek RaoAn interview with Sharath Komarraju
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Hi All!

We welcome you to the official Readify blog!

We’d like to start with a beautiful quote by Vera Nazarian – “Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light”.

Our mission is to encourage more and more people to read and we are going to do that with the help of stories that entertain, prices that don’t pinch, and a reading experience that is simple as well as beautiful.

Keep watching this space for book reviews, author interviews, offers, and a lot more!

Team ReadifyWelcome!
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