Co-founders Naheed Hassan (Pakistani) and Shanti Dominic (Indian), who are based in Boston and Johannesburg respectively, decided to unveil their venture, Indirom, on the biggest day of love, affection and romance — Valentine’s Day.
“I read a lot, including romance, and have always wondered about the women that were present in the books — I realised they had nothing in common with me,” says Hassan, adding there were stories of blue-eyed blondes being chased by Italian millionaires. “But I, dark-haired and certainly not blue-eyed, found it quite difficult to relate to them. I longed to read love stories from my part of the world — about people who look and speak like me.”
Indirom is an ebook publishing website that hopes to revolutionise the romance and popular literature genre in South Asia, while also providing an avenue for South Asian writers to share their love narratives. Hassan says the inspiration behind this venture came from the complete dissatisfaction with romance reading options available.
Dominic adds to the notion and says, “Indirom will showcase South Asian romance which has unique characteristics and is very different from the western concept of romance.” She feels the world has seen Bollywood romance and now it’s time to enthrall a global audience with South Asian love stories.
While Hassan has been a part of managerial and social development projects across Africa, Dominic, has spent her career in Switzerland, South Africa and UAE designing and implementing software solutions for banks. One thing these two achievers have in common is that they are avid readers and with their passion for books, then joined hands to launch their ebook publishing venture, where the novellas are solely rooted in South Asian culture and tradition.
A South Asian love abode
Indirom will serve to be a global platform to connect readers with writers — a channel for self-expression with an authentic voice for the South Asian spirit and soul. “Our tagline ‘Romance for the South Asian Soul’ symbolises this vision,” says Dominic. “The compelling stories will appeal to young, modern and urban South Asians across the spectrum as the plots are reflective of their ethos and culture.”
“We will be competing with traditional publishers of romance; we believe that the reader today is smarter and more discerning and won’t easily fall for formulaic writing that is produced in a writers’ workshop,” adds Hassan, referring to Indirom becoming the Mills & Boon of South Asia. “Every story comes from the heart so hopefully our readers will view us as a premium location for local, authentic, modern and captivating stories.”
Dominic feels Indirom will do much better than Mills & Boon and says, “Our authors are supported by a highly experienced editorial team and have a creative license in terms of stories and voice — without any formulas or rules.”
“Our aim is to nurture new South Asian writing talent that presents modern narratives, reflective of the strong, independent South Asian woman of today,” says Hassan, adding most of the authors are first time writers. “The books are very different; they span a gamut of emotions and situations from slums to monasteries and retirement homes to everything in between.” She adds that while inspiration may have been taken from the authors’ personal lives, the books are an output of their creativity and imagination.
Indirom has approximately 40 authors from all over South Asia with many of them being global citizens and second generation immigrants. The ebooks are all priced under Rs100 each.
Hassan is confident the venture will receive a positive response. “We have a strong vision for Indirom — technology has allowed us to create modern, innovative content experiences,” she says, adding she hopes women are able to stand up and admit they enjoy romance-based narratives. “We know women today want to read about love and relationships of women like themselves and we hope our books will provide an alternative to the escapist brand of western romance writing.”
While desi romance was their main entry point into the market, Dominic reveals they will be expanding into other genres as well over time.
An informal launch of Mamun Adil’s ebook Seasons of Silences, published by Indirom, will take place at the Roadside Café in Karachi at 8:30pm on February 14. The book is about Nadeem, a man whose marriage is disintegrating because he is unable to let go of his past.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2013.
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