Tune In To Lit Tamil – The New Indian Express
Express news service
CHENNAI: It’s been over two weeks since I heard the audio version of the famous classic by writer Kalki Krishnamurthy – Ponniyin Selvan. The five-part audiobook series on Storytel breaks down the precious and bulky composition of such stature into chunks large enough for easier consumption. The aural experience, by all means, does justice to the magnificent content as it seamlessly transports the listener to the fantasy world of plots around King Sundara Chozhan and his sons. Courtesy, the captivating narration of the narrator, punctuated by the right modulation, rhythm and diction.
For regional literature enthusiasts like myself, who have heard praise for many famous contemporary and classic pieces of Tamil literature, but haven’t had a chance to devour them, audiobooks open the doors to a whole new exhibition world. Through subscription audiobook and e-book streaming platforms like Storytel, we take local content one step further and promote it to customers around the world.
While people are still getting used to the Indian audiobook landscape, especially with regional content, the app has seen a significant increase in new listings after the virus-induced lockdown. Measuring the trend, Deepika Arun, Language Manager, Tamil, Storytel, is optimistic the medium is here to stay. “Subscriptions have doubled. Audiobooks are preferred because they allow you to have your hands free during daily tasks. He has also been a comforting companion in times of anxiety. Not to mention the refreshing respite they offer from screen fatigue, ”she says.
Boasting over 1,000 Tamil audiobooks under its banner, the platform has an impressive collection in genres such as fiction, crime, poetry, economics, science fiction, history, development personal, biographies and religion. From the subtle balance of short stories and long forms, it’s the classics that have the most takers. “Mogamul, Kadal Pura, Vandhaargal Vendraargal, Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal and Ponniyin Selvan are the most popular books on the platform. We select the best sellers for the audio format. The idea is to have a catalog that has something for everyone, ”says Deepika.
Along with quality-focused content, it is user experience and convenience that fueled the rise of audiobooks. Srinithya Sundar, a freelance podcast editor, explains, “I’m an avid reader but I love audiobooks. There is a certain fulfillment in listening to someone tell your favorite stories. It’s been a year and I’ve finished over 60 pounds. From the crisp pulp fictions of Rajesh Kumar to the supernatural tales of Indra Soundar Rajan, there is something for everyone. It would be a good option to introduce children to audiobooks from an early age so that they stay in touch with their native language. Unfortunately, aside from Storytel, there aren’t many dedicated audiobook platforms. Even what is available now is only a small percentage of all literary works put together.
Plug in and play
As Srinithya points out, aside from a handful of small-scale podcasts and YouTube channels, there is a dearth of audiobook platforms and resources. Shedding light on one of the possible reasons, Indhu Bala, a software professional, says, “Users need to step out of their comfort zone and experiment with audiobooks. The ideal way forward for bibliophiles is to think of audiobooks and physical books as two different mediums. In addition, the downside of Tamil literature is that few books are accessible to readers. I was able to listen to a lot of works and lesser known authors whose works I haven’t read much like Ambai or Vidya Subramaniam. It would be nice to have an audio book club too, ”she says.
In a country with a rich heritage of storytelling and folklore, the medium still has a long way to go to gain the attention of the general public. Meanwhile, Deepika and a team of dedicated vocal artists do their best to keep you entertained. “People with perfect pronunciation, excellent modulation and tone, and the right expressions are selected for the samples. We send these samples to the author / publisher / copyright owner, who then selects the artist to record the audiobook. All the voices you hear on Storytel are selected this way, ”says Deepika.
The result of their passionate work is reflected in the growing number of listeners in all age groups. For some, these audio books are sleeping pills; for others, it is a training companion; and for a few others, it is a stress reliever to relax and unwind. For Santhi Varadarajan and her husband, it is an activity to bond with. “Audiobooks take me back to my childhood storytelling sessions with my grandmother. Every morning around 9 a.m., my husband and I immerse ourselves in these stories. For people of our generation, it’s a great way to revisit the classics as well as catch up with contemporary works. The best thing is that you can also share your comments with the narrator. With this medium, listeners’ attention spans are less and you need content that can keep you hooked. The plot should be relatively simple with fewer characters so you don’t get lost. It’s a whole different ball game than the print.
A new ecosystem
Recently, audiobooks have also won over bookstores. Tamil Selvan is among the many bloggers who post audiobook reviews on their social media pages. “Despite the abundance of content, there aren’t a lot of promising platforms. Google Play Books and Audible have a decent collection, but the subscription is a bit pricey. Going forward, audiobooks must become an integral part of the Tamil publishing ecosystem, as they have great potential to attract listeners who are more familiar with the spoken version of their native language than the written format. For local language publishers, veterans, and aspiring writers, this can be a great source of income and a way to connect with the current generation. We need to promote this medium by encouraging young people to become voice over artists and we also need a dedicated section in newspapers with audio book reviews. There is a long way to go.
Globally, the audiobook market is estimated at $ 4 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $ 20 billion by 2030. Celebrities have started to lend their voices to these creations. Emerging audio streaming platforms have started investing in vernacular content to reach Tier 2 and 3 cities. Listeners are embracing new ways of consuming stories. Authors are more than happy to explore audiobooks to reach fans. While there is a lot in store, the future of media comes down to how we harness its full potential.
Authors whose books have audiobook versions
Perumal Murugan, Kalki Krishnamurthy, Rajesh Kumar, Indra Soundar Rajan, Sivasankari, Kottayam Pushpanath, Jayakanthan, Vidya Subramaniam, Sundara Ramaswamy, T Janakiraman, Vanna Nilavan, Ashokamitran, and more.
YouTube channels that offer audiobooks for free
- Audiobooks in Tamil: 5,99,000 subscribers
- Audiobooks Tamil Novel Arasi: 25,2,000 subscribers
- Tamil audio novels: 8,48,000 subscribers
- Tamil audiobook: 20.6,000 subscribers
- Théâtre D: 518,000 subscribers
Podcasts offering free audiobooks
- Kadhai Osai on Spotify and Apple
- Kathai Arasan on Spotify
- Tamil Novel Oli Audiobooks on Spotify
- Tamilosai – Tamil Audiobooks on Spotify
- Tamil Parambariya Kadaigal on Spotify