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All writers dread their reviews, keeping their fingers crossed that they will be raves. But now there’s a new kind of review and a new kind of reviewer. They don’t read the book and they review not the book but the writer and his/her politics. Their victims are left-liberal writers, many of whom Juggernaut are proud to publish – Sagarika Ghose, Swati Chaturvedi, Kanhaiya Kumar. Many other Indian writers have faced their wrath – Barkha Dutt, Rana Ayyub and most recently Arundhati Roy are some other well-known examples. [Read: Trolls attempt to manipulate ratings of books authored by Sagarika Ghose and Arundhati Roy]

You won’t find these reviewers talking about the characters, writing style, the author’s intent, plotting. Instead they say things like:

‘Waste of paper’, ‘Anti-nationalist’, ‘Boot-licker of the Gandhis’ – giving one-star reviews on Amazon. Many of these reviews are posted even before the book is available for sale. Most of them are by unverified purchasers.

Words aren’t just words. The downgraded stars do have an impact. Amazon now accounts for nearly 50% of trade book sales in the country. The ratings determine whether Amazon picks books for its monthly promotions – which help boost the sales of a book. I am sure a more naïve customer also gets affected by the ratings and reviews as they are meant to.

The trolls follow the authors on social media as well – especially Twitter. In the last week we have been posting a lot of stories around Sagarika Ghose’s wonderful biography of Indira Gandhi as it’s her publication week. Everytime we do so, a swarm of trolls attack us as well. And while we shrug it off, the ugliness does leave its mark.

troll_1 troll_2 troll_3

Imagine you’re an author – you have worked long and hard on your book, and now you’re nervous. The publication week is especially exciting and tense. For a writer it’s almost like giving birth, a thing they have grown and nourished and which they are now tentatively setting out in the world. And then you’re met with a barrage of filth and lies which follows you like an ugly stain.

Ultimately these reviews are also problematic for a larger reason. They are the opposite of thoughtfulness, good and clear thinking, factualness – instead they peddle lies and aggression. And everytime a book is trolled, they dent our world of ideas and thoughts and stories just a little bit.

At Juggernaut we’ve had enough. We’re saying don’t judge a book by its cover. Read before you review.

3 Comments

  1. Varchaswi / July 5, 2017 at 11:18 pm /Reply

    Hi Chiki, If you had to come down and pen this article, it is a sad thing really…. Your (and your teams) anger at the trolls apparently , as i assume, is very severe…. And taking a stand that you are proud to publish these writers needs a lot of guts… Well, I always thought that certain publishers must be crazy to publish certain things at certain times….. Being one of those persons who dreads half baked reviews given by non readers, I can connect with the situation at hand….. I can imagine the euphoria of the publishing team, over a great new product, being wrongly hammered by such trolling….. Anyway, happy publishing….

  2. Nagaraj NP / July 6, 2017 at 10:39 pm /Reply

    It’s a bold move on your part to speak against trolls trying to destroy the confidence of the authors. Such trolling is anti-social in its design.

  3. Zarin / July 9, 2017 at 11:10 am /Reply

    More power to you & the team! The trolls cannot decide what the majority of this country wants to read, think or debate! Keep going !

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