Art And Culture
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Literati Comment on Online Book Releases

The online approach may make the books appear cheap, but it may also make the publishers more considerate in their attitude towards writers
Online sharing is among the last resorts for writers to publish their works.Online sharing is among the last resorts for writers to publish their works.

The complexities in the publishing industry sometimes leave writers with no choice but to release their books on the internet.

Occasionally, electronic versions of books are found on the internet and social networks before their formal introduction in the publishing book market. To review the impacts of such a departure from the norm, ISNA interviewed some of Iran's literati who have firsthand experience in this regard.

Poem and prose translator and novelist Ahmad Pouri, 62, has for some time made his presence felt in virtual space. He believes that the environment of domestic publishing business is not affected by online versions, as "the electronic excursion has no connection with the official publishing sector."

Books for publication are so many that a few online publications will not make much of a dent on the publishing sector. "If we look at the phenomenon from a global vantage point, it even has positive effects. Fifty years ago, visitors to Tehran's Park-Shahr had to pay a fee before entering the park; now the notion of an admission fee for a public park seems pretty absurd. Art should be accessible to all. Online publication may inflict some losses on authors, but it is for the good of all readers," he said.

Writer and translator Araz Barseqian, 32, has shared three of his translations on the internet. "The biggest problem writers have is disappointment from their publishers. They have two options: to become a publisher or distribute the PDF version of their book on the internet," Barseqian said.

"For my online publications, I did not demand payment, and left it as an option to the reader. But five persons sent me some token money that totaled about $8; while each book had 3,000 to 5,000 downloads."

"The online approach may make the books appear cheap, but it may also make the publishers more considerate in their attitude," he maintained, adding that "free publishing is certainly not the way for us to make a living."

 Satisfactory Results

In 2013, Poet Ali Asadollahi, 45, published a collection of his poems online. "I did it to bypass censorship and I'm now quite happy with the results. My book has been noticed and read to a considerable extent. It was downloaded over 2,000 times and received a lot of feedback. I will do the same for my next book. In fact, I'm done with printing and the stuff," he says.

But fiction writer, poet, literary critic and journalist Pedram Rezaeezadeh, 34, is not optimistic about online publishing. "I myself am against it; because I believe, unless a book is officially released through the standard publishing channel, it won't get proper attention. Regulars on the internet are typically idle browsers; so online publications may not be a good idea."

 Last Resort

"Whenever a book is denied publishing permit, it ends up on the internet, or more officially, is published abroad," said novelist, literary critic and translator Kaveh Fouladinasab, 35.

"Online sharing is among the last resorts for writers to publish their works and convey their messages. My friends, of course, have not been successful in their online experiences. Whatever the reason, their works did not have the desired impact."

In practice, the books that have been published abroad or in Iran unofficially (whether on social networks or in printed form and limited circulations) could not make their way through the multitude of other works. Therefore, such books have "a very slight chance of getting noticed and read," Fouladinasab said.

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