Interview Hindi

Wanted to build something unique for the community: Bibhu Datta Rout on LIFFT India collaboration

The co-founder of StoryMirror talks about the natural alliance between his company and LIFFT India festival, while describing the ways in which StoryMirror encourages young writers.

Bibhu Datta Rout. Photo: LIFFT India

Sukhpreet Kahlon

A platform offering writers the chance to express themselves and share their untold stories with the world, StoryMirror is an alternative publishing site founded by Devendra Vishal Jaiswal and Bibhu Datta Rout. StoryMirror partnered with LIFFT India 2017 as the festival saw book readings by various people and the unveiling of Rakesh Malhotra’s book Dil Dhoondta Hai by actress Tanuja Mukherjee. There was also a reading from Rout’s book, Wheels of Wish at the festival, which concluded on 5 September. 

In an exclusive conversation with, the co-founder of StoryMirror, Rout talked about the natural alliance between his company and the festival, while describing the ways in which StoryMirror encourages young writers.

More on LIFFT India 2017

How did the collaboration between StoryMirror and LIFFT India come about?

LIFFT India is building a kind of ecosystem where they are bringing together literature and film and while their focus is on film, our main focus is on literature. So we came together in order to build something unique for the community. People should not look at movies in isolation or literature in isolation, so ours is an interesting amalgamation. It is an innovative idea and let’s see how it goes.

How has the experience been so far?

The experience has been very good so far. I observed that more and more people were coming in everyday at the festival and there was quite a bit of buzz on the internet about a unique event like this taking place in Lonavala. We have a user base of almost three million people and have publicized the event widely across our platforms as well so the word is definitely getting out.

In the opening ceremony while talking about StoryMirror, you mentioned that there are several barriers for new people when they want to get their work published and being one of the co-founders, you wanted to do away with these barriers. What are the ways in which StoryMirror allows access to young writers?

Talent identification, giving opportunity to writers, and taking the opportunity to the masses — these are three aspects of what we do. Most publishing houses only look at the monetary aspect, they do not look at the content or the reach of the work. In our case, we feel that we should take the risk and we have good tie-ups of about 5,000 books across 250 schools and colleges and 70 corporate houses. These numbers are going up every day as we are promoting untapped territories where literature can be promoted. There is also the concept of ‘Gift of knowledge’ where instead of giving sweets or other gifts as return gifts, we promote the gifting of books, which has been quite successful.

Given the idea behind the creation of StoryMirror, there seems to be a natural alliance between your company and LIFFT India as both entities are promoting new talent in different fields.

We have published a book by a 13-year-old girl, Akshara, which has been appreciated by Amitabh Bachchan and we are publishing a book by a 9-year-old too. We want to encourage kids to read, think and write. If their process is evolving, then society will evolve as well. It is the same with LIFFT India, as it promotes young people and their creativity.

There are a lot of e-books now and authors publish digital books but StoryMirror continues to publish physical books. Do you think that the physicality of a book is important to retain?

We have almost 7,800 authors on our portal who have produced several books. There is always a demand from the writers for both the things — the physical books as well as digital ones. Physical books are a traditional way of measuring one’s achievement so while e-books are growing in number, the inclination towards physical books remains equally high. In the case of children, it is completely physical books. Many readers also believe that physical books provide more reading pleasure.

Tell us about the book that you have written and published, Wheels of Wish.

My book created StoryMirror. It is the reason behind the existence of the organisation. Had I not been tortured by doing the rounds of publishing houses, I wouldn’t have left my lucrative investment banking job and moved on to the field of literature. I am writing full time now and managing StoryMirror and it is much more fulfilling than the previous job that I was doing.

My book deals with Sun temple architecture and contains several mysteries associated with the structure that many people would be familiar with. It’s a murder mystery and while the murder takes place in contemporary times, the story goes back to the 12th century. The response to the book has been very good and the rating given to it is very high and people have appreciated it.

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