Top Tamil movie stars may add huge value to the big screens, but they no more matter for publishing houses. Growth of social media has taken a heavy toll on books on Kollywood stars with readers ignoring the genre, which used to be the most sought after till a decade ago. Biographies of movie icons MGR and Sivaji Ganesan besides popular stars, including Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan that have their portraits, do not have many takers. At the same time, a new generation of youngsters are looking for titles on technical aspects of film making such as acting, editing and screenplay.
V Mathiselvan, a publisher at the Chennai Book Fair, said advent of social media and YouTube channels have had an adverse impact on books about Kollywood. “Ten years ago, at least 30 out of 100 visitors will look for such books in our stall during the annual book fair. Of late, hardly two enquire about books on Tamil movies,” he said. Curious readers seeking information on Tamil cinema get all of it online. “Readers feel books do not offer any new information over and above what they get online, on WhatsApp and on YouTube. This is the major reason for the dip in readership,” he added.
There is also a big shift in readership with the new generation preferring technical subjects in film production. With multiple movie streaming platforms opening up space for global cinema, publishers said it has changed the perspective on film viewing. K Kishore Kanna, a film student specialising in direction, said youths focusing on film career explore books of translated international authors. “Youngsters look for specific titles to enhance their skills in cinematography,” he said.
The book fair also had a couple of novels that were converted into screenplays for recent movies. One such novel had a portrait of actor Dhanush on its cover from a blockbuster flick in 2019. Some titles on biographies of actors were also available in English.
Meanwhile, a section of writers gave a representation to the fair’s organisers -– Booksellers and Publishers’ Association of South India (BAPASI) – at YMCA, Nandanam, protesting the eviction of a publisher on charges of displaying anti-government books and seeking withdrawal of BAPASI’s complaint against the journalist.