It is 21st century’s answer to the age-old tradition of storytelling. Instead of being huddled up near a fire, readers and writers now perch with their laptops, desktops or mobile screens. It is Pratilipi – an online platform which brings readers, writers and their stories together in a virtual community to instigate a dialogue on literature in any language. From the next-door neighbour reading stories in the afternoon to the funny college kid downstairs, millions of people around are using Pratilipi to discover, express and share their stories in the language they love.
The self-publishing community encourages novice and established writers with diverse backgrounds to explore their love for storytelling and share their writing with an audience of over 25 million monthly readers. Pratilipi’s huge base of writers allows them to discover emerging trends in writing – of three lakh active writers, over 55% women. In fact, one of the most popular genres – horror fiction – has women as its top writers. During lockdown, Pratilipi proved a creative outlet as readers and writers were able to support each other, proof of which is over two million reviews and comments and 10 million private messages shared every month. Pratilipi has been derived from Sanskrit word meaning ‘copy’ and is a self-publishing website.
In an interview with SAURABH TANKHA, Pratilipi co-founder RANJEET PRATAP SINGH (RPS) and head of IP Acquisition and Monetisation SHUBHAM SHARMA (SS).
When and to whom did the idea of Pratilipi first strike?
RPS I grew up in a small town near Rae Bareli in the Hindi heartland. I loved reading and grew up with comics like Champak and Chacha Chaudhury and classics penned by Premchand. Then I moved to Bhubaneswar to do my graduation, there was dearth of accessible Hindi literature. On the other hand, English literature was easy to come by, but contemporary literature in a variety of Indian languages was hard to come by. This posed an interesting question to me – why should it be so difficult to read in a language of your choice? We are a nation of different languages and dialects, so people should certainly be able to access content and enjoy reading in the language of their choosing. These musings, which I constantly shared with close friends, were the seeds that ultimately led to the conception of Pratilipi.
How has the journey been till date?
RPS Over a period of time, Pratilipi has grown from being a reading writing platform to an ecosystem with a literature community at its heart. The app functions like an ‘open mic’ for writers and provides a popular and safe space to upload stories for any user. We take great pride in this democratic approach to accessibility to publish and consume content. Not only do writers with Pratilipi publish over 250,000 stories on the platform every month, they also build a strong bond with the 25 million monthly active readers who read these stories over 250 million times every month. Readers and writers also communicate via more than two million reviews and comments and privately via more than 10 million private messages every month.
We are working to support writers to make a truly viable career out of their passion for writing by securing licensing deals and creating alternative channels to be able to amplify the creative output and passion of our writers: Ranjeet Pratap Singh
Our mission is to foster homegrown literary talent and for many of our writers who are on the platform have never published anything before. Through the support of the community and platform, writers are able to hone their skills, develop their passion for writing and build an audience. We are working to support writers to make a truly viable career out of their passion for writing by securing licensing deals (some of our leading stories have been adopted to various other formats including published books, comics, audiobooks and even web series) and creating alternative channels to be able to amplify the creative output and passion of our writers.
When you don’t charge a single paisa from the readers for the content, how does Pratilipi run operations?
RPS Pratilipi has raised money (~30 million US$) from some of the leading Indian and global investors which helps us run our operations till we implement our monetisation channels.
How do you keep a check on the content being uploaded on Pratilipi and ensure it is not plagiarised even though you take an undertaking from the person about it being an original work?
RPS We have built copyright detection tools that flag copyright violations with has about 99% accuracy. For the remaining 1% cases, we depend on our users to flag such content. At the first violation, we delete the content and give a warning to the author. A second violation results in suspension of the author’s account.
Suspense thriller, romance and horror are the top three genres on Pratilipi literature. Around 60% users are between the ages 18 and 34 and on an average. a Pratilipi user spends 58 minutes daily on the app: Shubham Sharma
Tell us more on Pratilipi offering new opportunities to the community and licensing partners who benefit from analytics on stories and authors.
SS When a story has built a significant fan base, the writer can build a better case for his story to be independently published as a book or to be picked up for a web show/comic/audio adaptation. On the other hand, this data, about the audience a story builds, also helps the publisher/producer to develop, market and distribute the final content better. Apart from the authors independently approaching the market, the IP Development arm of Pratilipi also helps them moentise their stories better. We scour through tons of data and reading material, over lakhs of stories, across languages to identify the next bestselling book or the next hit web show. We connect these authors to prominent Publishers and Content Producers, to secure commercial licensing deals.
Pratilipi recently secured Varsha Srivastava a commercial licensing deal with Storytel to publish an audiobook with the story to be published in print by Manjul Publishing. Tell us more.
SS Storytel, a global audio book company, bought the audio adaptation rights to two of her stories, Cindrella and Behroopiya. Cindrella Audio Book was produced and published on December 25, 2020. The second audiobook is set to launch in late March. Manjul Publishing House bought the publishing rights to her story, Behroopiya and the book is set to be published in early March. A major entertainment company is about to develop her three season series, Murdo Ki Train, Shaitan Se Samjhauta and Niya as a web series. They are the most popular stories on Pratilipi Literature and Pratilipi Comics.
Which are the three top genres read by Pratilipi users, which age group reads the most and how much time in a day do they log onto the Pratilipi app?
SS Suspense thriller, romance and horror are the top three genres on Pratilipi literature. Around 60% users are between the ages 18 and 34 and on an average. a Pratilipi user spends 58 minutes daily on the app.
What’s up next at Pratilipi?
RPS By growing into different formats, both on our own and through collaborations with other players in the industry, we continue to concentrate on adopting an ecosystem approach and creating the right products that have high consumer love and, subsequently, word-of-mouth acceptance.