Nepali Audio Book is basically a collection of recorded radio programs that are broadcast from different radio channels in Nepal.
Padam Shrestha and Krishna Guragain
The trend of making and selling audio books may not have caught up in our country yet but the app, Nepali Audio Book, shows some promise. According to their records, more than 7000 Nepalis are currently subscribed to their services, with the app being downloaded about 30,000 times from the Apple store. From these statistics, Padam Shrestha, the initiator of the app who lives in Finland these days, thinks it’s safe to conclude that Nepali masses do indeed enjoy the audio versions of their novels and stories.
Shrestha is also quick to explain that Nepali Audio Book app was solely created as a fun project. It was initially, only distributed within his group of friends and acquaintances. He was the one who created the backend and android app. Then later a friend helped develop the app for iOS as well. It was around that time that the use of the app services spread beyond his immediate group.
Nepali Audio Book is basically a collection of recorded radio programs that are broadcast from different radio channels in Nepal. They describe themselves as a non-commercial android application developed for Nepali literature enthusiasts. Most of the audio in their collections is from Ujyaalo 90 Network.
Krishna Guragain, operations head of Ujyaalo 90 Network, reveals that they too haven’t explored the legal process and logistics of publishing or selling audio books. Since it is an absolutely new concept in our literature scene, there are no guidelines or system in place for those interested in bringing out audio books. However, for the last decade, they have been catering to literature lovers with the show Shruti Sambeg. Here their RJ Achyut Ghimire reads out chapters from various novels in different episodes and has gone on to become one of their most popular features. Listeners apparently write in with their recommendations for their next reading.
Nepali Audio Book app links their users to episodes from shows like Ujyaalo 90 so they can enjoy the audio version of their favorite novels. Episodes of the book Summer Love are the most popular among their listeners with 96, 453 hits (last time we checked). Shrestha and Guragain, talk to The Week about their experiences of helping start a trend of audio books in Nepal.
Have any writers or publishers shown interest in your radio show or app?
Guragain: We have those just starting out to write stories and poems regularly approaching us. They see this as a good platform to showcase their work. It’s the same with established writers and poets as well. In the 10 years that RJ Achyut has been reading novels and stories for the show Shruti Sambeg, we have managed to gather a huge fan following. So whenever we ask for permissions from the writers to use their material for the show, we often get it right away.
Shrestha: We have been approached by many known and unknown writers, publishers, online radio and internet radio. People find the audio versions of literature very entertaining so writers seem to enjoy sharing their work in this format as well.
How did you select the stories, books and poems that are featured in your app?
Guragain: We keep tabs of the market and feature works that we find interesting. This way we can make sure we bring good work to people’s attention. On the other hand, there are already writers and novels that are popular and we entertain requests for them too.
Shrestha: Even though many are yet to discover us, Nepali Audio Book still has thousands of users who tune to us on a daily basis. We are also regularly requested for popular novels and we help the users by forwarding them to respective channels for the audio links. In a way, we have become a sort of a bridge between the various available channels and Nepali literature lovers.
So considering the popularity of audio versions of novels, why, in your opinion, is it taking so long for audio books to catch on in our literature scene?
Guragain: Our show has proven to be very popular among the masses but none of the producers have ever initiated such a project yet. As I mentioned, the legal and logistical hassles must be the primary factors. Also since the trend of audio books hasn’t even launched here in our country, some might be wary of investing in it. I bet many aren’t convinced that Nepali readers are willing to pay for such audio books.
Do you think audio books can help improve our literary scene?
Guragain: It all about making our literature accessible. Audio is another medium that can help with that. We see it every day with our listeners. Even those who don’t read much or don’t have the time to indulge in some reading get to enjoy works of our writers and poets so, of course, it can be helpful.
Shrestha: We are always committed and looking forward to building a huge database for Nepali literature so that everybody can get something out of it. So far considering the number of users in our app, I believe this is a good platform to promote Nepali literature.