Hi friends, I take this opportunity to introduce you to an amazing online community that deals with the world of Indian books and book lovers. It is known as The Tales Pensieve. It is a one stop place for all those interested in the world of books especially Indian books and authors.
I had requested Ms. Reshmy Pillai , the founder, to answer a few questions about ‘The Tales Pensieve’. A MBA specialized in Hospital Administration and currently working as Quality Manager, she is a new age entrepreneur, book reviewer, a voracious reader and a fiction writer.
1. How did you come up with the idea and title for The Tales Pensieve?
I believe stories/ tales irrespective of the genre are fully or partially the author’s memories in some form. As J.K. Rowling taught us the pensieve is a holder of memories, so in this case this pensieve holds memories which have taken the form of tales and that is The Tales Pensieve.
I have seen Indian writing’s presence grow exponentially over the past half a decade but found the references scattered. If you are in mood to read an Indian author/ book but have no idea about which one, then there was no way to figure out a choice. The idea behind The Tales Pensieve is to bridge that gap. To be that one point reference for everything that’s book & Indian.
2. How has been the journey so far?
In one word – Magical. It was as if all that Mahadev wanted of me was to go to wordpress.com and start a blog and thereafter he just adopted it. The response has been overwhelming from fellow book reviewers, authors, PR’s, book retail sites and publishers alike. Such whole hearted acceptance and love is just too humbling. Indian writing is undergoing an exciting change and I am glad The Tales Pensieve has found a little role in that change.
3. How is The Tales Pensieve different from other online book communities?
I think the most distinctive feature of The Tales Pensieve is its complete focus of Indian books. Be it book reviews, author interviews, reading challenges or books put up for reviews, it’s all Indian. It has become this meet-up point for writers of Indian origin and readers of Indian books and hence the tag line – Taking Reads to Readers.
4. What are the challenges involved in managing a thriving online book community i.e The Tales Pensieve?
The biggest challenge at The Tales Pensieve is the challenge to say no. While I want the site to be a comprehensive referral point for Indian reads, the influx of Indian books currently is too high for us to say yes to every request for review or promotions. Again it is not just about the numbers but quality too. As a reader there is a certain quality of writing that I believe in which is also reflected in the books we pick for the site and if the gut says this may not be it about a book the denial is imperative but challenging at the same time.
Secondly since its inception, 10 months back, the scope of services on the site is slowly but steadily expanding. Handling a community of book reviewers, paying attention to all the authors & publishers requests while creating quality content in terms of interesting inKonversations and book reviews has started looking like a stretch. Time or rather the want of it is definitely a challenge at this point.
5. Which are the modes through which readers can follow latest news from The Tales Pensieve?
Readers can either subscribe to email feeds directly from the site or join us on our social media pages:
6. What is your vision for The Tales Pensieve and what can the readers expect in the coming years?
The vision is to see it as a one point reference site for knowing and discussing Indian books. What we aim to achieve in the coming years is a more comprehensive database of Indian books complete with ratings etc. helping readers choose better, more Indian books for reviews and we may also soon open up more avenues for book promotions on the site. So it is not just more for readers but for the authors too.
7. How can authors and publishing houses benefit from associating themselves with The Tales Pensieve?
There are two things that I think every author needs to understand about writing if they wish to see their books in the hands of the readers: First that this is a business and at the end of the day it is about the sales figures against your book’s name and second jo dikhta hai vahi bikta hai. With the number of books vying for visibility, which undoubtedly is a direct influencer in the sales numbers, getting that elusive recollect value is not easy. We review and promote the books through our pages, get other reviewers to review the book, advertise books on our home page, arrange for the book to be on other prominent book sites pages and come up with unique ideas that may work in tandem with the theme of the book in question. So basically The Tales Pensieve plays a part in the dikhta hai (visibility) factor and that exactly is the difference between a successful and a not-so-successful book.
8. What is your take on the rising tide of interest in Indian Mythology? Do you feel this phenomenon has the potential to appeal to a worldwide audience?
Personally I am glad about the current escalated interest in Indian mythology because as a reader it is one of my preferred genres so I get to read more books. And as a writer with historical fiction leanings it is an intriguing by-lane to explore because history and mythology are so closely connected in India that the line is too fine to distinguish at times. But the glitch I see is while there have been some very good books in the genre by Devdutt Pattanaik, Ashok Banker, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Amish etc., some with neglected research, superficial understanding and poor story telling are also paving their way to readers owing to the new found popularity of the genre.
Will it appeal to a worldwide audience? Definitely. Fortunately or unfortunately what attracts most of the world still towards India more, is our past than our present efforts or even our natural beauty. Look at the tourists that throng our country; the majority is still concentrated in Banaras or Mathura than Bangalore or Mumbai or Kerala. Put it the right way, we have International bestseller material all around.
9. What is your take on the arrival of e-books? How do you feel e-books will change the publishing industry in the coming years?
eBooks are definitely a revolution in the way we read books. To not get into space-conflicts with your mother/ spouse every time you travel can only be a boon. I think in a vast country like India where physical distribution can be a challenge it will obviously make books more accessible and will also pull a tab on hardcopy piracy that thrives mainly on the lack of paperback distribution networks and economic feasibility. But the reach of eBooks will depend a lot on how tablet sales shape up in the country in the coming years.
eBooks should, as I see it, bring down the costs of printing, distribution, warehousing etc. so as a whole the affordability for books increases and I see the saved funds flowing into some extensive book promotions. More affordability ® more readers ® more revenues. All this can only be good for books as an industry. Also with the different modes of eBook publishing already available hopefully the tide will turn eventually in favour of the writers (wishful thinking J)
10. Since you are an established reviewer, what according to you should formulate the fundamental guidelines for book reviewing? Also, can you explain the ‘Reviewers Programme’ of The Tales Pensieve?
I think there is only one fundamental guideline to book reviewing – Honesty. A book review is at the core the reviewer’s opinion about the book. It is a personal like or dislike or anything in-between. So as long as you are honest to yourself as a reader, irrespective of where your copy came in from, the words that flow will ring of sincere constructive criticism. Getting bogged down by emotion is not recommended at all even if the emotion is empathy.
Reviewers Programme is a community venture at The Tales Pensieve aimed at getting more visibility to books and more books to readers. Through the programme book reviewers can join our network and when books are put up for review, these reviewers are intimated via emails. They can apply to review the book. Based on their interest and book availability, we choose the reviewers and the books are sent over for review. So books to the readers, reviews for the books. It is a win-win for authors and readers alike.
11.Kindly explain the various platforms of interaction The Tales Pensieve offers? (Eg : Giveaways, Indian Quills Reading Challenge, Wordsmiths speak, Reading Challenges etc.)
All platforms on the site are aimed at, first getting more about Indian books to readers and second having fun! We have a host of platforms aimed at different set of people associated with us, like:
- Debut Indian Writers Challenge (DIWC) – which every month features one or more debut Indian books and the writer of the best book from this challenge every month is featured as WordMaverick of the Month. After every 6 months, we celebrate the Debut Indian Writers Month where the whole community of book reviewers (associated with us) come together to read Indian debuts and there are link backs, best reviewer award, polls about books, most popular review award etc. We just wrapped up one in May.
2. Indian Quills Reading Challenge (IQRC) – where the community of book reviewers associated with us link back reviews of Indian books they read and one of them every month becomes the Indian Quills Reading Champion winning a book of their choice. All of their reviews forms the database which helps readers chose better Indian reads.
3. Giveaways – The only giveaways we encourage, so far, on the site are books and we giveaway books as part of contests to readers and reviewers alike. Readers can win them through DIWC while reviewers through IQRC. Sponsored giveaways by publishers or authors are also hosted on the site which are open to all.
4. inKonversation – is where we interact with authors about writing, little nuggets of wisdom, publishing and books as a whole. We exclusively interview only Indian authors.
5. Then there is the Reviewers Programme which we have already spoken about.
12.What is the novel media concept of Storizen featured on The Tales Pensieve?
Storizen.com is run by Mukesh & Amit, avid readers themselves, who through their site want to take Indian reads and authors closer to readers. Where Storizen is diametrically different from The Tales Pensieve is that they are a visual medium. They do video book reviews, video author interviews and the likes. We are associated since their launch in December 2012 and honestly it is great to work with people with a common passion. Right now the two sites (TTP & Storizen) work with each other on content sharing basis. I hope we develop more models to work with each other in future.
13. What would you like to tell our readers so that they would feel welcomed and more comfortable in accessing The Tales Pensieve online community?
If you have read this whole interview, you will realize that The Tales Pensieve is not restricted to readers or reviewers or authors or publishers. It has something for everyone. The only requisite to be on the site is love for Indian literature in your heart. If you have it, then https://thetalespensieve.com is the place to be. Believe me, if there ever was an exciting time for Indian books, it is right now. TTP is your shortcut to share the excitement.
Thanks a lot Ms. Reshmy Pillai for taking time out from your busy schedule and answering the questions. Friends, next time when you want to buy an Indian book or update your knowledge on the world of books don’t forget to check The Tales Pensieve for the latest updates in the world of books. Make an informed choice.