Saturday, September 28, 2013




Last week I had the good fortune to participate in a few interesting sessions of the Pune International Literary Festival (PILF) held at MIT Kothrud Pune from 20 to 22 September 2013.

For me, one important “takeaway” from PILF was that nowadays: “More people Read on Digital Screens than Paper”.

In the days to come, this trend will increase exponentially and we may soon reach a stage where the “Digital Space” overshadows the traditional print medium, as far as all forms of writing and reading is concerned, including creative writing and literary reading.

This predominance of the digital space is going to cause a total paradigm shift in the publishing industry.

At various sessions during the Pune International Literary Festival, most publishers and editors were talking about the decreasing financial viability of publishing on paper as compared to the electronic medium.

Many publishers were saying that the future of publishing creative writing, especially literary fiction, lies in the “Digital Space”.

Why is this happening?

The main reason is “Technology”.

Technology has provided the hardware gadgets and software applications to optimally exploit those gadgets.

But most importantly, technology has liberated writers from the clutches of editors and publishers.

CREATIVE WRITING – Why Does a Writer Write?

Why do you write?

If you are a writer, you will realize that writers write for two reasons:

1. Some write because they want to earn money (commercial writing)

2. Others get the urge to write because they want to say something (creative writing)

In your case, which is the primary reason why you write?

There was a time when writers could earn enough money to make a living.

That is why writers could afford the luxury of full-time writing (and not doing a job).

But was difficult to establish yourself as a “published author” since you were at the mercy of editors and publishers.

And only if you could establish yourself as a published author could you earn enough money from your writing to make it a full-time vocation.

It was a Catch-22 situation.

If an editor did not print your writing in a magazine or a publisher did not publish your book you were doomed to failure as a writer, as these were the only ways you could make your writing reach the reader.

Either you had to be a celebrity, or have the right “contacts” in the publishing industry, or get that “lucky break”, or keep peddling your writing doggedly despite getting rejection slip after rejection slip.

Publishers evaluated writing purely from the business point of view.

Your writing had to be “sellable”.

That is why “commercial fiction” is most sought after by editors and publishers.

The combination all these factors is the reason why many “wannabe” budding writers who tried their hand at writing, faced rejection, got frustrated, fell by the wayside, and since they could not financially sustain themselves, they had to take up other professions.


Everything changed with the advent of the internet, proliferation of information technology and innovations like blogging in the “digital space”.

Now, “publishing” is no longer the monopoly of a handful of publishers and the stranglehold of editors is over.

Anyone who wishes to write can instantly “publish” their writing on blogs and showcase their literary work to the world.

I feel that blogging is the biggest “blessing” for those who wish to write, especially creative writers.

Yes, apart from social media, blogging is the most significant innovation of information technology.

Now, with widespread proliferation of the internet, every person has the opportunity to write.

All you have to do is to set up your blog (which is simple and free of cost on a number of popular blogging platforms like blogger, wordpress, typepad etc).

Then, you upload and publish your writings on your blog.

And, instantly, your writing is available throughout the world for people to read.

You feel a sense of “instant gratification”.

And you experience a sense of creative freedom since you have full control on what you want to write on your blog (without any external “editorial intervention”).

By removing the opaque barrier of editor/publisher between the writer and reader, blogging has enabled the reader to connect directly with the writer and facilitated mutual interaction between the two.

Blogging has proved to be a big boon to writers (who write because they want to “say something”).

If you are a writer, blogging is the best medium to satisfy your creative urge and demonstrate your literary skills to the world

Blogging is also of great benefit to readers as it has made so much material available for them to read free of cost.

Apart from blogs, there are many websites which contain a deluge of reading material in the digital space.

Many people have stopped reading printed paper and do all their reading from screens.

Technology has also progressed fast by leaps and bounds.

First you had ebook readers, and then you read on screens of PCs, Laptops and Tablets.

Now you have Smartphones.

Nowadays, people spend more time reading books on Smartphones than they do on tablets, ebook readers, PCs and laptops.

New sophisticated “eReader” applications for reading books on electronic screens are being developed in a big way to offer a superior reading experience on handheld electronic devices, especially mobile smartphones and “phablets”.

Handheld digital screens are edging out paper books

With increasing trend of reading on handheld digital screens (especially smartphones), paper books are being edged out of the market.

The shutting down of many bookstores (including the iconic Manney’s in Pune) and downsizing of bookshop chains (which restrict their stock to recent commercial fiction) bears testimony to the increasing ascendancy of the digital space vis-à-vis the traditional print medium.

During a discussion at the PILF, someone said that even the popular “secondhand” bookstores were winding up as more and more literary works were digitized and were freely available online on the internet.


What does this all mean for budding creative writers?

If you are a new writer then it is better to forget about “publishing” your writing in the print medium.

You will be better off if you start blogging your writing in the digital space.

At the recent Pune International Literary Festival (PILF) I met a columnist who used to write columns on topical issues for print newspapers.

He told me that owing to financial considerations, newspapers were becoming thinner, both smaller in size and with lesser number of pages.

Also more pages had to given to commercial features which financially sustain the newspaper like advertisements and sponsored features (“paid news”).

The result was that there was less space for content of columnists and writers.

So the columnist was repeatedly told to keep reducing the length of his article and make it shorter and shorter, till the word count became so less that it was not possible for him to properly express what he had to say.

Finally, things reached a stage where the e-version of the newspaper (in digital space) would carry his full article and the print version would be abridged to fit into the miniscule space available.

So now, the columnist has started blogging where he can write in an unrestricted and unrestrained manner.

Let me tell you about another friend who is a voracious reader.

He travels extensively all over the world as a part of his work and he spends a lot of his time waiting at airports, in hotels or in commuting to and fro to airports.

Earlier he used to carry a book to pass time during these long waits.

Now he carried his Smartphone – he can multitask, he can network, and also read a wide variety of things via the web since internet connectivity has become so easy and accessible.

He regularly reads my blog wherever he is in the world, and he can access literature and information from websites and also read a variety of blogs and writings of his interest.


Suppose you observe something which stirs emotion within you and you experience an urge to express your inner feelings and say something, tell others, so you write about it – say, a short story.

In the “good old” pre-internet days, you would send your piece of creative writing, your story, to a magazine for publication.

And then, the agonizing wait would begin.

Some decent editors would acknowledge your contribution, and then let you know of acceptance or otherwise.

Others would not even have the courtesy of acknowledging receipt of your story.

Sometimes, there would be so much delay by the time your story was published that you yourself would have lost interest or the story would have lost its topicality.

It was similar with a manuscript of your book, if you were a new budding author.

Everything depended on the whims and fancies of the all-powerful editors and publishers.

Most unsolicited manuscripts were consigned to the slush-pile and forgotten.
Hapless authors who wanted their writings to see the light of day had no choice but spend time and effort to make the rounds of editorial offices, swallow their self respect and be ready to be pushed around.

Not anymore.

The advent of blogging has changed everything.

Now, the moment you finish writing your story, you can upload it on your blog, and, hey presto, your story will ne instantaneously available worldwide for all to read.

Readers will connect with you, just like my friend can read my blog posts on his Smartphone, wherever he is in the world, the moment I post them on my blog.

It looks like: BLOGS ARE IN and BOOKS ARE OUT

Or to put it more aptly:


Is the end of traditional publishing industry imminent?

Maybe not the “end” but the decline of print medium has certainly started as more and more people start reading on convenient handheld digital screens rather than lug around cumbersome paper books.

There is a revolution brewing in publishing.

The ascendancy of digital space is an undeniable reality.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

Did you like this blog post?
I am sure you will like the 27 short stories from my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:
If you prefer reading ebooks on Kindle or your ebook reader, please order Cocktail E-book by clicking the links below:

Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll
If your are a Foodie you will like my book of Food Adventures APPETITE FOR A STROLL. Do order a copy from FLIPKART:

About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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