Gone are the lazy afternoons when there was nothing else to do but finish tomes of romance well adjusted in the most comfortable corner on the bed, floor or wherever. The lazy afternoons exist and often, there is nothing much to do but then this space of undisturbed inactivity is now encroached upon by technology.
After all, how can you finish an entire chapter and not check if your latest selfie got over a 100 likes. And if not that, at least you have to know if that creative wisecrack found its due respect in the universe of social media. And then by the time you return to the book, the afternoon has passed. Now, imagine if this experience of interaction is found in a book? What if the hero tells you the kind of woman he is looking for in his life and then dialogues often turn into a chat screen? This is the idea behind Crave Romance, a romance book app launched by digital media startup Paragraph last December. Ziv Navoth, the co-founder and CEO of Paragraph, explained to an international news website that it’s “hard to compete with the eye candy” of flashy apps like Snapchat and Instagram. Readers might have only a few minutes to invest in a story and their expectation is that it’d better be compelling, and it’d better be with pictures, and it’d better be with sound.
The hero from November 9 pops up to converse in this app
Crave does just that. Going by their campaign this “app turns your romance novel fantasy into reality.” A book released on Crave is serialised into mini chapters that are sent to the user on a daily basis. This new chapter involves encounters with the hero and some more chats. With over 800 followers on social media platform, Facebook, the app already has hooked on fans wanting for more. While some are unhappy that it is not yet available on Android, others are keen to read more. In India, people in the business of writing and publishing still have mixed feelings about such new reading platforms.
Long way to go
While some like romance author, Durjoy Datta point out that even the ebook market in India has reached a plateau and readers here still read extensively on paper, Chiki Sarkar, who recently launched Juggernaut Publishing that would chiefly focus on the phone and tab reader, is optimistic. “We love the idea. And it feeds into some of our thinking. We’ll wait and watch this space with interest,” she says. Datta, however, says that any new platform that reaches out to readers differently is important in these times when people apparently are reading less. He, however, adds that the publishers have to be discerning about what platform is for what writer. “One would not like to read an Arundhati Roy or a Salman Rushdie on a phone,” he says.
Meanwhile, Ravinder Singh is not very optimistic about the idea. “The difference between reading a book and watching a movie is that books leave you a space for imagination. I wonder if meddling with that would help,” he signs off.
We love the idea. And it feeds into some of our thinking too. We’ll wait and watch this space with interest
– Chiki Sarkar, publisher
The difference between reading a book and watching a movie is that books leave you with a space for imagination
– Ravinder Singh, romance novel writer
One would not like to read an Arundhati Roy or a Salman Rushdie on a phone
– Durjoy Datta, romance novel writer
How crave fared?
Availability The app is only available on iOS platforms and hence only iPhone users can download it as of now.
Readability Though the frequent display of dialogues as chats may work for some readers it can become a distraction for some others. For those who want a distraction-free reading there could be an option to turn some multimedia off.
Cost It is free for a week and then there is a subscription charge of $3.99 a month after which you get to read a new chapter every day. Payment options include only international credit cards.
Books Only three books in the app as of now. November 9, The Best Goodbye and He Will Be Ruin
1. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. Asylum, Patrick McGrath
3. Brokeback Mountain, Annie Prouix
4. Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin
5. Love Illuminated, Daniel Jones
6. Madame Bovary, Gustav Flauber
7. The Book of Gold Leaves, Mirza Waheed
8. Therese and Isabelle, Violette Leduc, translated by Sophie Lewis
9. Twice Born, Margaret Mazzantini
10. Love in the time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez