[App Fridays] How Indian language storytelling platform Pratilipi scripted success with over 25M readers

Indian language digital platform Pratilipi is connecting readers and writers in 12 Indian languages. It has more than 2.7 lakh writers who have published over 27 lakh stories, and has over 25 million readers.
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The consumption of online multimedia content has increased significantly in the recent years. A report by consultancy firm RedSeer Consulting reveals that the rising popularity of OTT and short-form content platforms is driving content consumption in Tier II India, and the monthly active users (MAU) for short-form content grew nine times in less than five years, growing from 20 million users in 2016 to 180 million in 2020. This coincides with the fact that there are more rural than urban internet users today, and a whopping 90 percent of these people seek or access content in regional languages. 

This seems to be the key reason why Indian language self-publishing platform Pratilipi is trending on the Google Play Store. The Bengaluru-based startup, which brings together authors and readers, has 10 million downloads as of now.

The app aims to engage with a mass audience, especially Bharat (Tier II and Tier III India) and attracts fans of varied genres, ranging from romance and horror to poem and non-fiction.  

Founded in 2014 by Ranjeet Pratap Singh, Sahradayi Modi, Rahul Ranjan, and Sankaranarayanan Devarajan, Pratilipi primarily focuses on text and audio storytelling. Run by Nasadiya Technologies Private Limited, the platform claims to be having more than 2.7 lakh writers who have published over 27 lakh stories in 12 Indian languages including Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Odiya, Tamil, Kannada, Urdu, Telugu, and English. The company claims to have over 25 million readers

The team at Pratilipi

Pratilipi also claims to be the number one books and reference podcast app on the Google App Store with a rating of 4.6 stars out of five. The app is also available on the Apple app store.

For this week’s app review section, we decided to explore the app, and here are our first impressions.

Getting started

After installing the app, users are asked to select their preferred language as well as the UI of the app.

We selected English language and soon we were asked to sign in with our Google account. The app then showed us the ‘trending’ story, which was not in English, and was in an unidentified language in English font. It was a bit of a turn-off, but we quickly jumped to the homepage to explore more.

On the homepage, users are asked about their interest areas of reading so that the app can create a curated home screen. The UI of the app is clean, interactive, and organised. There is a search bar on top and titles below. The top strip showcases some must-reads, which are personalised as per readers interest. The app is free to use and publish stories.

As we scroll further, the app keeps unfurling titles under various segments. One can also see some discussions happening on the app to help us engage with other like-minded users.

The content

The stories we came across on Pratilipi are user-generated content from experienced authors as well as budding authors. The content is spread across stories, poems, articles, magazines, novels, essays, etc.

We tried reading a few self-published books and we felt the in-app reading is very user friendly. The best part is that one cannot take screenshots of the published story, which means fewer chances of the content being plagiarised.

Users also have the option to save their favourite books by creating their own library and they can even download the books and read them offline. The app also has podcasts, but that did not seem very attractive to us.

One of the key features of Pratilipi is that those looking to publish their books on the app can submit chapters one at a time. This can help them create a buzz around their content and get some feedback from the community.

Submitting a chapter or a story on the app is also as easy as posting a social media post. Pratilipi also provides a hassle-free and advanced writer panel to make the act of writing a whole lot comforting.

The verdict

Pratilipi does seem to engage well with quality literary content in Indian languages to a vast and enthusiastic audience. The stories at Pratilipi speak to the mass audience across India and attracts fans of varied genres, ranging from romance to horror.  

As Pratilipi rightly puts on its website, “They say that it takes a village to raise a child. At Pratilipi, we say it takes a community to make a writer. We all have a story to tell.”

Pratilipi makes you a member of a large vernacular community of storytellers and story lovers. It connects you with other passionate readers and writers, and lets you rate and comment directly on stories as you read them, and support writers as they create and share original stories. The app is the perfect way for authors to connect directly and instantly with readers. It works as a superb launchpad for regional language authors. 

Most recently, Swedish audiobook app Storytel entered into a partnership with this homegrown startup to adapt Pratilipi’s top-performing repertoire of stories into audiobooks that will be hosted on Storytel. This could give any author a hope to join the international community of audiobooks.

If writing is something that excites you, we surely recommend you download the app and put your writings out there.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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