World Mother Language Day: This social media app for writers is encouraging regional language storytelling!
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World Mother Language Day: This social media app for writers is encouraging regional language storytelling!

Why should storytelling be limited to one language? The Bridge Chronicle spoke to the founders of Pratilipi to understand more about their idea behind a social media app dedicated to writers.

Walking into a library as a child was always a subject of fascination for many. In fact, several could also relate to Belle's awe as she walked through aisles and aisles of books stacked up in Beast's gigantic library in the movie Beauty & the Beast! But, sadly, the generation after us will never know the rush of finishing a book in time to return it -- or the unadulterated joy of being able to waltz into a Crossword anytime we wanted. Nonetheless, despite the rampant digitalisation, there's always hope for voracious readers and writers. Writers, as they say, find their way with words.

Pratilipi's skyrocketing popularity during the lockdown perhaps means just that. With an aim to bring readers, writers and their stories together, the app brought together its audience on a common platform over their common-love for storytelling. "By connecting the writing community we are not only creating an audience for their writing but an ecosystem with a literature community at its heart where writers can support each other with feedback and comments," said Ranjeet Pratap Singh, co-founder of Pratilipi. "After I left my hometown to go to university I realised Hindi literature was not common across the country which posed an interesting question to me — why should it be so difficult to read in a language of your choice?" he questioned.

The app today supports 12 Indian languages across 2.5 crore readers. However, the hurdle of programming various regional languages was a matter of concern for the founders. "To build a substantial reader-base we needed great writers and great content, but writers would only join if we had the audience to read their content," said Ranjeet. He further explained how tackling the chicken-egg problem took him some time. "There were many aspects which helped Pratilipi achieve this base of writers and readers. Nonetheless, I think the most important aspect is constantly striving to develop our single-core offering, which is a reading and writing platform," he added.

After achieving a milestone goal of 25 million active readers and 250,000 new stories every month, the founders are now looking at building a lasting platform for the writers. "One of our key focuses at the moment is to develop licensing deals for our writers and the content on the platform," said Shubham Sharma, founder of Pratilipi. "We have an IP Development arm of Pratilipi, which is actively looking to help writers monetise their stories and make a truly viable career through their passion for writing," he continued. He additionally mentions how writers on the platform now have a fan-base of their own, which helps them get recognised.

"As a writer, I enjoy the freedom of being able to write what I want. A reader could directly message me about a particular story," said Neha Dhole, a Marathi-language writer on Pratilipi. Neha, who has been a part of the app since 2017, also mentioned how quick feedback helped her stay motivated. "Reponse from readers on my content keeps me motivated," she added.

Another writer, Ashish Kumar, discussed how a digital platform for these stories has helped pave the way for new opportunities. "Earlier they (writers) had to rely on traditional ways of publication, which had its limitations concerning their reach and space in print," he added. However, Ashish, who writes stories in Hindi, also mentions the drawbacks of digital publications. "Measures should be taken to stop piracy. This definitely damages the reputation and also has an adverse effect on the author's moral," he stated. "There also needs to be a proper monetisation scheme to reward writers for their talent," he concluded.

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