Reading a book, or even a short story, is a luxury to many who does not have the time or mindspace to sit down with a book – or a kindle. But that doesn’t mean that stories, or storytelling, would die. A few women are making sure that the art of story-telling is here to stay. Find out more about them here.
Rachana Agarwal and her daughter Sonika Agarwal started Storydip in April 2019, to enable access to the vast stories the world has to offer. Their focus is on English and Hindi stories with female protagonists, who can inspire girls and give wings to their dreams.
Rachana used to tell stories to her three daughter when they were children, especially those related to social issues - which made them aware about the condition of women in India. She has seen the deep impact the stories were making on her children – especially in building curiosity. In fact, Sonika began studying subjects that interested her during her free time, and at 15, taught herself full-stack web development purely through resources on the internet.
“When listening to hard facts, only the language-processing parts of our brain are put to work. However, when listening to a story, all the parts of the brain that would be activated had we been the character of the story are activated,” says Sonika, who also coded Storydip.com. Rachana curates the stories for the platform, and includes a range of tales from Akbar-Birbal and Tenali Rama to Beauty and the Beast.
The entrepreneur-duo of Anushka and Vineet Shetty aimed to get the mobile-first generation to read, and had to reach them through a platform they knew best: online. In 2019, they launched Plopnow - an interactive fiction entertainment platform that aims to ‘edutain’ millennials and Gen Z in a format they understand: immersive, bite-sized fiction.
The idea with Plop was: don’t just read the story, live it. Hence Plopnow is spread across multiple media – text, video, audio, simulations and role-playing - to offer an interactive content experience, at the apex of content and gaming.
In short, Plopnow is the OTT for reading and brings immersive fiction to the fore. It goes beyond written content, merging with visual content over the internet and bypassing traditional book distributors. Writers can publish their interactive stories directly on Plop.
The platform’s target audience falls in the 18-35 age group, most of which are women. (This age group shows the lowest numbers in terms of traditional paperback or Kindle consumption.) these users depict a mature market where smart phone penetration is high, disposable income is high, attention spans are reducing, video engagement has saturated, and the audience is exploring newer content in more engaging formats.
Spin a Yarn
Based in Mumbai, Spin A Yarn founded by Madhurata Deshmukh and her daughter-in-law Shikha Dalmia allows children to watch storytelling sessions held by more than 120 narrators, comprising elderly people. (The storytelling sessions are recorded and streamed on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.)
The platform allows children to read, watch or listen to narrations on its website and has recently announced the launch of its magazine by and for children. Students across schools in Mumbai have formed a core group to take charge of creating, editing and publishing the content. Based on a monthly subscription, it will be available from April, 2021.
Spin A Yarn India is the only organisation in the country to partner with UNESCO when 2019 was declared the international year of indigenous languages to preserve and promote the diverse languages of India. It now hosts the Read Aloud project in over 600 schools through a partnership with the government of India’s Bhasha Sangam Initiative.