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Between the pages

Raghav Modi  

Every Sunday at 3 p.m., book lovers on twitter discuss authors, genres and publishing trends in a session moderated by The Sunday Book Club (@TSBookClub). The TSBC has crossed 112 weeks and has at its helm three founders — Raghav Modi, Sudha Ganapathi and Rahul Gupta, based in different cities.

“TSBC arose from a combined passion for books and the fact that nothing like this was being done on Twitter, in India at least,” says Raghav, who had been running a movie chat, #MTOS (Movie Talk on Sunday).

He realised that a number of conversations he was having with Twitter friends based in India were about books. “Since I had a basic idea about running a chat, I asked Sudha and Rahul (with whom I had interacted on Twitter) if they would like to start something,” he recalls. The first TSBC chat took place on September 30, 2012.

TSBC generated interest even before it was officially launched, reveals Sudha. “We shared the idea with our friends and followers on FB and twitter; Raghav and I also wrote posts on our respective blogs,” she says.

Both Sudha and Raghav note that some original followers, with time, owing to reasons from change of cities to time zones to other responsibilities, became less active in chats while newer participants have stepped in eagerly. This changing user base keeps the founders on their toes.

The team keeps tabs on trends, important literary dates and recommendations from followers. “The final decision (for the topic of Sunday chat) remains with us,” says Raghav.

There’s a method to the madness, evident from what Sudha says: “We have a tentative list of topics for Sunday’s #TSBC, which gets tweaked regularly. We try to prepare a monthly calendar of topics. This calendar is not rigid, to allow spontaneity (and ‘Eureka’ moments) in choosing a topic for #TSBC.”

The #TSBCLateEdition was begun much later, for those who weren’t able to take part in the Sunday chat. “#TSBCLateEdition takes place on any day of the week, evening or late night, and lasts from 10 minutes to two hours. The idea is to be spontaneous,” says Raghav. The questions keep changing and the weeknight chat doesn’t follow a fixed schedule. These chats look at the fun side of books and the team calls #TSBCLateEdition the rebellious brother/sister of #TSBC.

Maintaining the momentum of TSBC requires the founders to be adept at time management. Raghav runs his own business and Sudha has a full-time job. “Normally, while one of us hosts the Sunday chat we have another person on standby for last minute emergencies like internet problems, work issues, or as in my case running after two active kids,” says Raghav.

While Sudha enjoys interacting with book lovers, she admits it can get exhausting moderating a Sunday #TSBC session. “A nap after the event and some tea, and I’m good to go,” she says.

TSBC caught the eye of publishing houses in its early stages and the founders took a stance to follow a ‘no promotion policy’. The team doesn’t collaborate with authors or publishers and books are recommended based on research, choices, likes, dislikes and suggestions.

The team has its hands full, says Raghav, when asked about long-term plans. A bi-monthly #TSBookChat discusses a specific book. A new Monday hashtag #TSBCBookList was introduced, which involves one of the followers sharing 15 books from his/her collection. “I want to try and have a podcast, or just a talk, with followers, putting a voice to our discussions. Other than that, I don’t think even we know when, where, and how the next idea will happen,” sums up Raghav.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 8:02:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/between-the-pages/article6630023.ece

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