May 222012
 

physical books have been a part of my life for as long as i can remember. one of my first memories is walking hand-in-hand with my father down peddar road to the lending library at ajoomal building. there, he would pick out comics for me — the great franco-belgian comics: asterix, tintin, lucky luke and others.

from there i progressed to what any indian kid in the eighties might have read: the great indian epics in abridged form, enid blyton (a legacy of colonialism) and books from the soviet union (a legacy of the cold war). as i grew older, i discovered the city’s bookstores, both established (strand) and semiformal (the sidewalks near Flora Fountain) and the raddi shops where you could buy (or for a fee borrow) used books.

so when i thought about writing and being published, it was the physical book that i  imagined. but then a couple of things happened: the world changed and i got a book deal.

1. a changing world: when i came to the u.s. in the late 1990s, i brought along four of my favorite books and a few cassette tapes (you read that right). tells you how times have changed. now, even though i spend hours gazing lovingly at my bookshelves and their contents, i must acknowledge that most of my most recent book purchases have been on my ipad. and i’m not alone. e-readers are seemingly inescapable these days. and if critics were lamenting fewer readers a few years ago, they’re now lamenting more e-readers. i used to be among them. occasionally, i still feel wistful about the world of books, their smell, what it feels like to turn a page, or the thrill of writing my name inside. and so i still buy physical books and still love reading them, but i can’t argue with the convenience — not to mention free shelf space — that comes with ebooks. that brings me to my second point:

2. getting a book deal: like almost everything these days, the publishing industry is in flux. higher costs; lower sales; what to do? penguin decided to launch a new digital imprint, dutton guilt edged mysteries, which is publishing my debut novella. actually, it’s not that new an imprint. guilt edged published pulp noir in the 1940s and ’50s. dutton saw a business opportunity and revived it as a digital imprint. its rationale was simple: genre fiction sales are fast moving to the ebook world — especially in the united states. and so i find myself at the cusp of something new (and i daresay exciting): a first published work of fiction in a  format — one that i know is here to stay (at least until the next technological revolution rolls around).

 

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