e-Author 5.0 sounds suspiciously like the automated copywriting software programs peddled by many US copywriters’ sites. Actually, the moniker signifies the latest ‘version’ of Oxford Bookstore’s online writing program, featured on www.oxfordbookstore.com, which was launched on February 21 in India. This version, according to a release from the bookselling chain, is actually the next running of a nationwide contest to identify and reward the finest new and emerging writers.
Launched globally in 2001, the program offers a total prize money of Rs 100,000 for the best full-length novel and Rs 30,000 for the best short story. This year’s entries would be evaluated by a jury comprising Antara Dev Sen, Editor, The Little Magazine; Chris Gribble, Chief Executive, The New Writing Partnership (UK); acclaimed authors Jaishree Mishra and Pavan Varma; Mohan Sivanand, Editor, Reader’s Digest; and Saugata Mukherjee, Senior Commissioning Editor, HarperCollins India.
Past jurors have included, among others, authors like Amitav Ghosh, Taslima Nasreen, Vikram Chandra, Amit Chaudhuri, Githa Hariharan and Aniruddha Bahal, poetess Nabanita Dev Sen, scholar-editor Samik Bandopadhyay, editor M J Akbar, even intellectual-at-large and Union Minister Jairam Ramesh.
The program has the blessings of publications and book portals as varied as Reader’s Digest, Rediff Books, Web18 and Sulekha.com, all of which apparently feature information about the program on their websites.
Have any winners been published yet? It turns out two past winners – Madhulika Liddle of Delhi from e-Author 4.0, and Devi Yashodharan of Chennai from e-Author 3.0 – are reported to have received publishing offers. Oxford Bookstore itself has not published the works of any winner yet. As a medium for seeding new talent and building ‘the supply chain’ for publishers, e-Author is a good beginning with a long journey ahead.