Surfing a site that uploaded 25,000 books for readers gave Rahul Suvarna, 24, and Pramod Sahastrabuddhe, 50, the idea. They too wanted to set up a site where they can upload books of Marathi literature.
“We would regularly track the Gutenberg site. All its books are easy for anyone to access. We felt we too could have something similar for Marathi literature. Even if we got 1,000 books uploaded, it would be a big achievement,” said Sahastrabuddhe.
They approached a Marathi daily that published an article on their project, marathipustake.org, and asked people to lend their books
to them. And the response was overwhelming.
“We asked people to lend books, which we would photocopy and return,” said Suvarna. The project has gone global. Students and Marathi literature lovers from Australia, the United States and other parts of the world have now come forward to help in typing, uploading and sending books.
“The first response was from two youths who said they would create the site for us. However, after its creation, the site got hacked. But they recreated it and have committed to run and maintain the site for the next five years. We also got people to proof read and edit the books,” said Suvarna.
What is interesting is that Suvarna and Sahastrabuddhe have not spent a rupee on the project. “The project has shaped up well,” they said.
The duo spoke to many professors asking them if their students could be engaged in the project. “But they failed to understand why anyone would read Marathi literature on the internet when people did not read printed books,” said Sahastrabuddhe.
But the duo has been receiving emails from students of Marathi language and literature. For many, this is a dream come true as they feel that they would now be able to read books they could not easily land their hands on.
The founders of the site have set a target of 1,000 books over the next five years. They guide students who have volunteered to type and upload the books. They say that if a student types even a single page a day, one book can be uploaded in two months.
“We are not scanning books since they occupy a lot of space and there is a problem of downloading them. We are typing out the books and uploading them,” said Sahastrabuddhe.
The duo has also made it clear that they will upload only those books that do not fall in the purview of the Copyrights Act.