Bibhu Datta Rout's story is a page turner. Sick of constant rejection slips for his writing, he founded StoryMirror, a literature platform, which hosts both readers and writers. He expects 580 million new vernacular language speakers in India by 2023- 24. How does the business work?
"A writer finds our platform through references or search engines. They can submit stories in multiple formats (story/poem/quote/audio) and languages. They can select cover images for their books from a library of a million cover images, crop, change the colour, font, etc, before submitting. Editors give marks. The editing process is partly automated and partly manual," he said.
Rural kids, says the bibliopreneur, when they become adults will "be primary beneficiary of this market if they are prepared well".
Rout considers all the 20,000 children on his platform equal. "There will be a time when after our death, our children and grandchildren will come searching to know what we were like, how we thought and what we made of our lives. Our stories will be a doorway to our existence," he says.
StoryMirror's revenue model? Publishing services, content licensing, sales of books and e-books and brand campaigns generate income. "In the near future subscriptions will open."
Rout is building a set of new products, which will help writers to augment their skills, monitor their revenues and nurture their aspirations to churn out national bestsellers. His answer is gamification modules that enable authors to prop up their content. This will generate more consumer interest, he believes.
“While our focus is digital, we won’t leave the physical book space,” he says. Through author dashboard and other marketing and distribution tools, the site brings complete transparency to the literary ecosystem. This bibliophile’s efforts have got him tangible rewards.
His writers have received youth icon awards from Sahitya Akademi. "We believe that every moment is a story and in every nano second thoughts change. Each story has the power to influence millions of other humans," he said.
The next chapter? Bringing seven billion writers under one roof.