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From Insta Novels to “Cat Person”: The digital platforms revamping literature

(From The New Statesman. Link to the complete article given below)

The popularity and ubiquity of online fan fiction (fan-written fiction created based on existing narratives) cannot be overstated. While often relegated to a niche in internet culture, assigned the same nerdy status as Tumblr teens and Reddit bros, “fanfic” is due the credit for a growing number of pieces of mainstream culture (Fifty Shades of Gray was originally Twilight fan fiction). But while fanfic has thrived, the internet has remained an unobvious place for the majority of society to go to read fiction. Opting for Kindles, literary magazines, or hard copy books, mainstream culture tends to use digital platforms for consuming news stories, culture reports, and opinion, and leaves its literary consumption to more traditional channels.

However, that could all be changing. The New York Public Library announced last week the launch of their series called “Insta Novels”: a “revolutionary new program that will bring digital novels to Instagram”. Classic novels, poetry, and short stories will be shared via their Instagram Stories feed, making literature accessible on a platform that millions of people visit daily. The first in the series is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; told through a series of animated videos and pictures spliced between images of each and every page of the book. It will be followed by the Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and the short story The Yellow Wallpaper.

Read more at The New Statesman link here

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Modernisation and its Discontents: Contemporary Thai Writing

I often ask myself and others: why has so little Thai literature been translated? We are a country of around sixty-seven million people, and Thai is the twenty-fifth most spoken native language in the world; the numbers should suggest a better outcome. Have we been written off abroad as a good-time country of pad Thai, Phuket, and, troublingly, prostitution, a land where, as Thais like to say, we have fish in the water and rice in the fields, and therefore our people are viewed as not having suffered enough for deep meditation? Then I thought: instead of merely contemplating the question, why not start chipping away at it? When Words without Borders suggested a Thai issue, I was delighted, shaking in my boots as I pondered which authors and pieces to pick among the many I would love to showcase.

The writers back home offered backup. I pounded the pavement and made cold calls to reach authors, many of whom have become friends, and they generously shared their reading recommendations. Especially because Thai literature has been so rarely translated, theirs, I sense, is a Thailand that shows its vulnerable side, not the Thailand that has its best foot forward like in the guidebooks. In these pages, you will find expressions of the disquiet of living in contemporary Thailand, a Southeast Asian nation where the rate of modernization seems only to accelerate.

Thailand is an axe-shaped country with the “blade” flanked by Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. The “handle” separates the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand and touches Malaysia at its southernmost tip. The nation very recently lost the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej (also known as King Rama IX), the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, which moved the country’s capital to Bangkok in 1782. Contemporary Thailand has known nothing but King Bhumibol as its head, and during his seventy years on the throne he was an imposing ballast for the country. Yet, the kingdom has not been without political turbulence: since its transformation from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy in 1932, it has seen a dozen coups (plus a number of attempted ones) and is currently under military rule, this time since 2014.

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China Reinvents Literature (Profitably)

Smartphones may be killing print in China, but they’re revolutionizing literature. Last year, 333 million Chinese read fiction written for their phones and other devices, according to government data. Some is written by hobbyists and some by professionals. Increasingly, though, it’s hard to tell the difference, as China’s “online literature” morphs into a $1.3 billion industry.

Investors have taken note. On Wednesday, China Literature Ltd., the country’s biggestonline publisher, will go public in Hong Kong, with a market value expected to exceed $6 billion. Its success should put the rest of the publishing industry on notice that the future of the book is being written in China — and it looks nothing like the past.

For decades, China’s publishing industry was dominated by government-owned companies that steered clear of subject matter that might cause controversy. Politics was just the most obvious topic. But sex, romance and violence — the stuff of so much popular entertainment — were also generally discouraged. Good books still managed to get published, but formal and informal restrictions severely inhibited creative expression.

Then the internet offered a back channel. In the late 1990s, authors began posting serialized novels to online forums and bulletin boards. It was an informal and largely uncensored way to publish, and some of the early books — especially romances — became sensations. Among other factors turning these early serials into hits were the online forums themselves. They were the social media of their time, and parallel commentaries and discussions organically sprung up around this new literature, becoming as much a part of the experience of reading as the story itself. In many cases, these commentaries influenced how the authors wrote, and thereby drew in even more readers eager to be a part of the story-making process.

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New Apps Provide a World of Literature, One Chapter at a Time

By 

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple’s all-purpose gadget that kicked off the smartphone boom and forever changed the way we communicate, collect and consume information. With portability and a knack for relieving boredom, the iPhone and its ilk naturally became ad hoc e-book readers for busy people seeking brief escape to fictional places from nonfiction reality, like being trapped in transit or stuck in a Trader Joe’s line stretching to infinity and beyond.

Serious readers know squinting through a sprawling novel can take some effort on the small screen. But just as websites, videos and games soon adapted themselves for the smartphone experience, a new type of “mobile fiction” has emerged to fit the confines of the device — and today’s on-demand attitude.

Modern mobile fiction typically consists of sections of a novel or story that take just 15 to 20 minutes to absorb. The installments are cleanly formatted for easy reading on a four- or five-inch screen, and delivered at regular intervals by email or app (Android and iOS). Cliffhangers are popular. Read more

Source: The New York Times


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China to guide the development of online literature

By Xinhua

The General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has asked the China Writers Association (CWA) to guide online literature and carry out other reforms.

According to a plan to deepen reform of the CWA issued by the office on Thursday, CWA should establish evaluation and incentive systems that will benefit the development of online literature.

The Party’s role in literature work should also be strengthened. For instance, the Party should guide and support works focusing on juveniles and patriotism, as well as realistic and historical topics.

In the meantime, the CWA should organize literature exchange programs among Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and provide more communication opportunities between Chinese and foreign writers. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Amazon report shows Chinese keen on reading

By Xing Yi

Amazon China, one of the largest online booksellers, released its 2017 Reading Report on April 20, which shows a continued interest in reading and some new trends among Chinese readers.

Based on 14,000 surveys and company data, Amazon reports that 56 percent of those surveyed read more than 10 books last year, continuing a trend found in previous years.

But this year it finds that 78 percent of the readers are sharing reading experiences on social media, such as on instant-messaging app WeChat, micro blog Sina Weibo, review website Douban and question-and-answer website Zhihu.

Reading books on electronic devices is a major factor that fuels the behavior of sharing. The report reveals 71 percent of those born in the 2000s choose to read books on Kindle, the company’s electronic devices, whereas only 25 percent among those born in the 1950s do so. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Readers on rise, mostly in digital

By Mei Jia

Chinese adults read an average of just under eight books in 2016 – a tiny increase of 0.02 percent over 2015 – while a rapid increase of 6.1 percent was seen in the number of people reading digital content.

“We’ve seen fast growth in digital reading for eight consecutive years,” said Wei Yushan, head of the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, who announced the academy’s major findings from the 14th survey of Chinese reading habits on Tuesday, ahead of World Book Day, which falls on Sunday.

Of the nearly eight books read by an average adult in 2016, about five were in print form and three were digital. Wei said similar surveys of readers from European countries and the United States show that they read 10 titles a year, while Japanese read 12. Read more

Source: The China Daily


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China: Online writers find path to become millionaires

By Li Hongrui

Online writer Tangjiasanshao, or Zhang Wei, took the crown again on the latest income ranking list of Chinese online writers.

Receiving 122 million yuan ($18 million) in royalties, the writer comes in at first place for the fourth time.

Born in 1981, Zhang once worked for a small IT company after graduating from Hebei University. He got fired by the slumping company in 2003.

In 2004, Zhang started writing his first online novel, Guang Zhi Zi, or Son of Light. In 2012, the young writer was crowned on the royalties ranking list for the first time.

Many web writers, such as Tiancantudou (Li Hu) and Wochixihongshi also rose to fame because of their work and enviable royalties.

A series of popular TV series, animations and games have been adapted from their writings, including Nirvana in Fire and The Journey of FlowerRead more

Source: China Daily


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India: Pune to host first Marathi e-authors Sammelan

By Partha Sarathi Biswas

Over the last few years, a large number of bloggers, social media influencers and other authors have emerged who use the Marathi language. Aiming to bridge the gap between the virtual and real world, e-book platform bookhungama.com has organised the first ever literary meet — called Nukkad Sammelan — exclusively for such writers, and it will be held in Pune. Vikram Bhagawat, co-founder of bookhungama.com, said a need was felt for this interaction so as to enable them to chalk out the future course of the genre. “These authors have a cult following and act as agents of change on the various platform they are active on. While these authors do interact among themselves virtually, a real meeting was felt necessary,” he said.

The emergence of social media, Bhagawat said, had given rise to newer forms of writing, which has made its effect felt. Facebook in particular has helped democratise literature while the e-book format has helped many budding authors to publish their own work. “The journey of bookhungama.com had in fact started from a Facebook page. We had started a page about the letters which we never got about writing and asked people to contribute to it. Now, that page has more than 76,000 ‘likes’,” he said. Similarly the Nukkad blog, another initiative of the team, is a platform for people to write short and very short stories. Read more

Source: The Indian Express


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China: Turning a new page: Writers of online fiction taste fame and fortune

By Song Jingyi

It has been eight years since Tang Xintian, a post-80s woman in Beijing, started working as a freelance writer.

Tang majored in economics and began working as analyst in Shanghai after graduation. However, it was her passion for writing that made her quit her job and started to write novels online.

In 2009, Tang started by posting her stories on Hongxiu Tianxiang website, China’s largest community of fiction lovers online. Luckily, her first novel was weel accepted and ranked in the top three on the website. Later, it even got published.

Tang was greatly inspired by this success, and has been working as an online writer since then. In 2011, she became more popular across the country when the TV series Naked Wedding, based on her novel, became a hit.

Despite her popularity, Tang continues to post her works online, because she has found internet “a very good place to let people know your work, especially publishers and readers.” Read more

Source: China Daily