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You become what you read — www.pratilipi.com

निज भाषा उन्नति अहै, सब उन्नति को मूल।
बिनु निज भाषा-ज्ञान के, मिटत न हिय को सूल॥

“Own language stands for advancement, it is the basis for all progress. Heartache can’t be erased, without knowledge of own language.” 

The above lines by the father of modern Hindi literature Bhartendu Harishcandra is just one example of great leaders all over the world emphasizing the importance of one’s native language, and yet, think of the last time that you read a story, a poem or a book in your native language, chances are that it was a long time back, isn’t it?

I am a voracious reader, I read across genres, across disciplines and yet for past few years I’ve read ‘almost’ exclusively in English, and ‘almost’ exclusively foreign writers.  The primary reason simply being that English content has much better accessibility.

Almost all of the classic English literature and majority of contemporary English literature is readily available on platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, Oyster, Kobo, Wattpad et al. You can also use Goodreads and Library things kind of platforms to decide what books you want to read. But can the same truly be said about vernacular literature? People like you and me are still lucky that we can read English, think of around 600 million Indians who are literate but who don’t know English. Oh, btw do you know that around 45 million Indians access internet in their local/native language. But these 45 million Indians, as well as people like you and me do not really have much of a choice with regards to Vernacular language content.  

To solve this pain-point for us and to increase accessibility to Indian literature we are working on our platform Pratilipi – You become what you read. We have launched our early beta with two languages(Hindi+Gujarati) last week (14’th Sept, Hindi Diwas) and the response till now has been encouraging. We already have 15000+ page visits in the last 7 days. We have got 117 authors on-board with us, including some who have won Sahitya Academy Award, Padma Shree Award and some of the other highest civil honors in India. Our website link has been shared 795 times on facebook, and we have got 411 subscribers. 

A big reason for us being able to get a good start was that we got a lot of support from a lot of people(including many rodinhooders), special thanks to Alok sir(who played a devil’s advocate and that compelled us to work harder and prove him wrong).

We do understand it’s just an early beta and there is a long way to go, but we do want to travel all the way so please have a look at Pratilipi.com and let me know your feedback(good/bad/ugly).

Overwhelmed by the awesome community support, both here at Rodinhoods and in general, hope to see most of you at the Bangalore Open-House,

Ranjeet

P.S.  Below is a video that we made before our beta launch as a teaser video 🙂

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7 Comments

  1. hey ranjeet,

    i think it’s a neat idea to promote literature of regional languages!

    quick reaction to your video – while i loved the video – it doesn’t say anything about regional languages 🙁 in fact it should’ve been in devnagari! i know it’s a teaser – but then a teaser needs to lead to curiosity around the product, right? it could be for any english book/good reads platform. you need something that leads up to pratilipi….

  2. @Asha: You are absolutely right if we think from our heart/as per our personal vision,  but this had to be a strategic decision keeping in mind what will work best for the business.

    We have two clearly defined(and almost non-overlapping) customer segments. One is people like us who understand English very well but would also like to read vernacular literature and second who can only read in their local/native language.

    Reaching the second segment is both tough and expensive and we knew that we wouldn’t be able to reach them without having some financial muscle + segment is more active on internet and hence they are more likely to act as our brand evangelists, so we started with segment 1. Now, people in this segment may speak Hindi or Gujarati or Tamil or Bengali but the one language that acts as a bridge is English, hence the English teaser + having english as the base language of the website. 

  3. ranjeet – even if you chose to use english to convey the msg – you still could’ve incorporate the fact that you will share stories your nani used to tell you (just an example – as my nani didn’t know english or hindi for that matter!! she spoke only a dialect of punjabi and would tell stories in that dialect)

    you can use english to reach out to folks – but you need to convey what your USP is. 

    since you are coming to the bangalore OH on the 27th – pls catch me there (preferably after the event and i will talk to you about this). i have an advertising and film background 🙂

  4. @Asha: That does make more sense, we could(and should) have done something like that.

    I will definitely try to catch you after the event and pick your brains on this, thanks a lot 🙂

  5. Ranjeet ,

    Video is simple superb 🙂 ,

    Want to know   how it is different from http://books.google.com , where u can see million books in various languages .

    However.. Wish you all the best .

    With Best regards

    Sudhakar

  6. @Sudhakar: Thanks a lot buddy 🙂 

    Google as well as hundreds of other book selling platforms(Amazon, Flipkart, Kobo, Oyster) are typically just that, ‘book selling’ platforms, they either just focus on out-of-print books or they deal directly with publishers. On that front Pratilipi is primarily a self-publishing platform wherein a reader a can read/buy.

    I think a better question could have been that how are we different from Smashwords/Wattpad/Newshunt/Scribd in which case the answer would have been a lot more detailed 🙂

  7. many congrats ranjeet!

    i believe pratilipi has turned one today?!

    looking fwd to the story on your one yr journey!!

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