Is the era of fudged bestseller lists over? Nearly, if BookScan, the world’s largest tracking service for book sales, has anything to do with it. Four months since it opened its office in India, BookScan now tracks book sales in the four major bookchains across India, besides online bookstores like Flipkart and Infibeam. Publishers subscribing to it are provided a weekly update on how their titles are doing nationwide and how they compare with the week’s top sellers. Some 40,000-50,000 different titles are surveyed every week. Chetan Bhagat and weight loss books are still the chartbusters, but soon publishers will be able to find out every author’s track record. So if your first book sold only 120 copies, be sure every publisher will know of it at the click of a mouse.
If imitation is the best form of flattery, the Jaipur litfest has more than earned its bragging rights. After Pak writers became saveur de saison in Jaipur, Pakistan OUP’s Ameena Saiyid decided to host a Pakistani litfest last year: the Karachi Literature Festival. After all, as she told a newspaper, “our writers are as good, if not better”. The mix of international and Pakistani literary stars talking and partying in Karachi’s picturesque Carlton Hotel obviously worked. This year the two-day fest (Feb 5-6) features three times as many authors (100), with Karen Armstrong as the leading draw.
Comfort He Wrote
Absolute essentials for a writer? Here’s Vikram Seth’s list: “a dressing gown, a hot water bottle and some whisky if you can procure it.”