Go reclaim your readers says Ruski
WikipediaRuskin Bond said in an interview, “India could soon be facing a predicament of having more writers than readers”.
The use of “Predicament” tells us the Padma Bhushan awardee foresees a difficult, unpleasant or embarrassing situation for the publishing industry which may impact the book sales. Watching him talk would have provided the opportunity to factor in his tonality along with the non-verbal cues to make a comprehensive sense of what the iconic writer meant when he said what he said.
This post is not so much about agreeing or disagreeing with his statement, as it is about my interpretation of the “Why” and “What” of the entire interview. Being the grand old man of Indian literature, he is at a vantage point to review the Indian literary scenario and hence not many will share the same perspective.
As hinted, I will not consider this comment in isolation but review it in conjunction with others from the same interview. He also stated "Publishing has come of age and more and more writers are making a good living out of it... But, I think with so many people writing now, there is a danger of having more writers than readers."
It is a legitimate concern directed towards the publishing houses with a clear advice that if they do not take the responsibility for quality of books they publish, they are at the danger of losing out on the readers. Do not just let anyone be a writer just because publishing is easy, do it based on the literary merits of the writers.
Go reclaim your readers is the message!
I am not implying that Indian writers should not get the opportunity to publish their works but promote only those who meets the criteria.
There is a phenomenon in Bollywood where a super-duper hit movie is turned into a multi-million dollar franchise business. Every now and then, a complete nonsensical movie makes it big at the box office and we see them churning out even more nonsensical versions of the same. I wouldn’t care much if movie lovers knowingly sacrifice their valuable time watching those or a few young directors try to replicate such successes. All who think they can fly their cars or jump over a few blocks of buildings - Good luck to them!
However, the implications are radically different when writers with poor literary skills churn out one lousy novel after the other. This has negative impact on the society from every perspective. If someone get inspired by works, they have selected the wrong example and if they try to emulate their success… it is a bigger disaster!
It is Lose-Lose Situation for everyone.
I am not the only lone who resents this, there many more who share the feeling. I suggest that you follow this link to “Quora”, to review their reaction to the question “Why are novels by bestselling Indian authors so horrible?”
You will be amazed!
I am quite certain the same question arose in the mind of Mr. Bond many a times which lead to his advice, "Confidence in the language is a must. You should have something to say and be able to research on it well. Clarity is key."
The publishing house should take the responsibility to uphold the quality and look beyond earnings. If this is not checked now, we will be mere spectators as the reading habits of younger generations spiral southwards to oblivion.
…….and then there will be no readers!