Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Amazon.in Launches Hindi Book Store


Amazon.in today announced the launch of its Hindi book store with a wide selection of over 23,000 Hindi titles. This store of large book collection is across genres, categories and authors.

Book lovers can find books of all types such as fiction, literature, biographies, novels, childrens' as well as collections of popular authors including Premchand, Gulzar, Javed Aktar, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Kamaleshwar, Yashpal. Also a selection of the prestigious Sahitya Academy award winning books is in place.

“Since our launch we have had several queries for Hindi books and books in other Indian languages. The Hindi store is just a first step in enabling a convenient and easy access for our customers to their favorite authors across Indian languages”, said Samir Kumar, Director – Amazon India. “We will soon launch a selection of books in other regional languages including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi. We hope our small contribution of easy access will go a long way in increasing the popularity of regional language books.”


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rama's Library in a Box

When we first shared pictures of the 'Library-in-a-classroom' kits which were donated to deserving organizations across the country, many people kept asking us how they could buy these kits. Rama Kumaraswamy Thoopal also commented on our album and said that she had already sent us an enquiry about the books. A few weeks later, we were thrilled to see the idea that Rama had hatched.

*drum roll please*

Rama's very own Library in a Box.


Miss V turned one and lazy mum that I am, I opted out of making it a Page 3 event. 

So unlike other well-meaning parents, I did not book the best party planner in town to orchestrate a colour-coordinated jamboree featuring trapeze artists and Dumbo the flying elephant.

Yes, I sacrificed the enviable opportunity of comparing notes with other determined momsies waggling their French manicured fingers at tots ensconced in the arms of long-suffering nannies. 

Instead, I spent the night before decorating, burnt my fingers making surprisingly decent carrot cupcakes and conjuring up a crazy rhyme time treasure hunt for Mr. V and my best buddy’s kiddies.

Heaps and heaps of time spent with my chief guest and just having the people who really count in my life made it absolutely perfect.

As did my moment of epiphany. 

I spent days of wondering if I should conduct a magic show at an orphanage, donate money yada yada …..basically do something ‘good’ to mark my baby’s first. And then it crept up to me all of a sudden and I was floored ..umm..by my own genius.
After years of struggling to think ‘out of the box’ in advertising parlance, I finally thought IN the box and it turned out to be my best idea ever! 

LIBRARY IN A BOX 
OBJECTIVE: Spread the joy of reading among kids whose parents don’t splurge on books – i.e. the help’s kids + get them books in Marathi and Hindi which they never find. Psst...anyone can do it, no biggie so just try it out in your neighborhood. It restores your faith in humanity, well at least the fact that kids do still WANT to read.

WHAT IS REQUIRED
1 One old beer carton
2 Lots of Pratham books (English, Hindi Marathi, -different grades)
3 Craft paper, gum, scissors and an old calendar
4 Spread the word amongst the maids' kids as they play cricket.
Vola! 



Mr V and moi slapdash decorating attempts but the stuff inside makes it all worthwhile! The kids absolutely loved the Pratham books I ordered. 

HOW LIBRARY IN A BOX FUNCTIONS
1 Basic record keeping of which child has taken how many books (No mention of titles).
2 Max 2 books to a child, return in mint condition and take the next two.
3 Open Wed 7 PM and Sunday 5 PM (with workshops)
4 Sunday specials - activity around books every Sunday - e.g. puppet workshop, bookmark making, art etc. 
Launched 15th Feb 2014 and as of March 5th 2014 there have been 118 check-ins and check-outs (books circulated) among 21 kids! 

EXPANDING LIBRARY IN A BOX TO TWO BOXES
1 Work in progress which sees me haunting kabadi wallas for old Magic Pots, Chandamamas and Tinkles
2 Trying to lay my mitts on old school readers etc
3 Buying new books whenever possible - e.g. Navneet publishes in Hindi and Marathi too, I have pretty much bought all of Pratham's collection (Hindi, Marathi). Within a month my book budget has crossed Rs 2000:)

My childhood ambition of owning my own bookstore or working in a library might have been at work on a subconscious level. With Library in a Box I am doing both! Hey, but Mr V loves it just as much as I do and generously offers ‘some’ of his books for the box as well. Miss V likes sitting in the box and is thrilled to see so many kids trotting in and out. Enough said!
**********
View more pictures of the Library in a box and the storytelling session that followed.

Thanks Rama for executing this simple and effective idea! 

Now, we wonder if many more parents and kiddos will be creating library boxes in their neighbourhood this summer (*hint hint*). Send us a mail at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org to tell us your story of spreading the joy of reading!

Pratham Books is looking for a Chief Technical Officer (CTO)


Pratham Books, a not-for-profit children's book publisher is looking for a CTO to lead their open-source Crowdsourcing Story Publishing Platform (SPP) and Crowdsourced Library Fund Raising Platform. (FRP)

About the Story Publishing and Fund Raising Platform:Till date Pratham Books has reached millions of children but we are still very far from the goal of seeing 'a book in every child's hand'. In-order to scale-up and tackle this problem head-on a collaborative story publishing seems to be the best way forward.

The project at hand will build collaborative web platforms that solve the three major problems that affect children in India – a very low number of books available for them, a lack of linguistic diversity of books and a lack of access to funding for libraries and books so that children can experience the joy of reading. We will leverage communities to solve these problems and use our openly licensed content as a catalyst for these initiatives.

The first platform, SPP, will allow readers and content creators participate collaboratively, creatively and in mutually beneficial ways to translate, remix and create entirely new books using our openly licensed illustrations and stories as a starting point and make the resultant works available in a variety of standard compliant formats for reach across both digital and print mediums while providing open access to a library of digitized stories and illustrations.

The second platform, FRP, will seek to leverage the communities we have fostered to crowd-fund libraries for children where they are needed most and for whom they are needed most. The FRP idea came about as we realised that there are a number of organisations out there that are in need of books and libraries and may or may not have the social capital to raise funds to pay for. Also, we have discovered that it is hard to find
a single resource of organisations that can absorb books and libraries and are credible enough to feature on a funding platform. The work on FRP has already started.

In three years, our project will enable the continuous creation of new content in multiple languages and allow physical books to reach otherwise marginalised populations of children via crowd-funded libraries and this will help create a nation where we can begin to envisage a book in every child’s hand. All of these will be built through open source technologies and collaborations with various organisations who have already done parts of the same.

CTO REQUIREMENT:
For the purpose of the SPP we need a CTO who will be a key player in the delivery of this platform. This role requires a seasoned manager and technologist who can work effectively, both independently and collaboratively, in a team environment where not everyone has a technology background. More importantly this individual needs to believe in 'out-of-the box- solutions to tackle mass problems and should be a strong believer and propagator of use of open technologies. The idea is not to build a platform from scratch but if possible build-upon already available open source modules. The individual will be responsible for the end to end delivery of the platform. The platform has various verticals and the individual will need to work closely with the teams leading all the verticals to understand the usage scenarios. The individual will report to the project lead that will guide the direction of the project from the organization’s overall mission and goal. The
responsibility to deliver the entire platform will lie with this role along-with certain project management roles like hiring people for the backend, deciding on vendors, vendor management, keeping tabs on the budgets etc. Please see Booktype by Sourcefabric as an example of what we might want to create.

The individual will be responsible for all the following:

• Platform deliverables:
Preparing the user stories, documentation and compiling all the platform requirement and specs documents, creating the workflow maps etc
• Delivery of platform:
Deciding the key technologies to be used and why
Research to see existing modules available
Collaborating with organizations doing similar work
• People, Vendor & budget management:
Liaising with the finalized vendor working on the project
Hiring internal resources on a need-case basis
Ensuring the project is done within the budgeted resources – time, money and people

• Overall deliverables:
Ensuring the vision of the platform is never compromised
Managing the release schedules, time lines and versions
Roadmap for the future
Nice to have but not mandatory:

• A track record of leading and delivering projects, preferably open source ones.
• Experience working with non-profits.
• Domain knowledge in publishing industry, Indic language experience and digital publishing

For the FRP, while the platform is currently being developed by a group of designers and technologists mostly on a pro-bono basis, the CTO will need to be involved with future versions of this platform and managing the development of the same.

Pratham Books also has an estore and website. Regular inputs on upgrading these would also be part of the profile.

Location: Position is based out of Bangalore and is full-time. Project is expected to complete within a 18 – 24 month time-frame.

Salary: Will commensurate with experience. We are looking for a passionate individual who wants to make a difference.

Write to us: Email your resume to purvi.shah(at)prathambooks.org. A short note on why this profile sounds interesting would be appreciated.

Interested? Read more about what we do and why we do what we do:Research reveals that 1 in 3 school-going children cannot read fluently. Children who are unable to read are unable to learn, as they can’t understand what is being taught to them. And that contributes to the high dropout rates in schools. Fortunately many non-profit organizations are aware of this problem, and are working towards getting children to read. However, once children do learn to read, it is critical to nurture that habit, so that they begin to enjoy it, and continue to read. To cultivate a reading habit, it is essential for
children to have access to books and libraries.

In India there is a large gap for good quality affordable books in languages that our children read and learn in. Pratham Books was set up to fill this gap. As a not-for-profit publisher, our dream is to see a country where every child wants to read, is able to read, and has something good to read.

Till date, Pratham Books has published over 260 titles in English and 10 other Indian languages. That's over 1600 books, most of which are priced below Rs 35. We have printed over 11 million books, over 10 million story cards and have a readership of nearly 50 million. Our vision is to reach 200 million children in India, and we hope to someday put 'a book in every child's hand'.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Slight Delay



We are upgrading our systems and any orders placed between 1st-10th April will be shipped after 11th April only. However, please don't let that stop you from making your summer reading lists :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Make the Most of the Summer Holidays!


Some of our regular blog readers know that we have a small section for events on our blog. You didn't? Head to our blog and look for the sub-section on the top-right of the blog. Found it?

We updated our events calendar yesterday and there are so many fun things for kids to do in the months of April and May. Ahhh, the joys of summer holidays!

Here's a quick post to share what we've found. Enjoy the holidays :)

CONTESTS/ SUBMISSION DEADLINES

APRIL 2014

Summer Hang-out @ Tantra Library, Chennai - 1st-5th April

Lucknow Book Fair, Lucknow - 4th-14th April

Summer Special Story Express, Bangalore - 5th April (registrations required)

Storytime with the Storywallahs, Bangalore - 5th April

Magic or Science Workshop, Bangalore - 6th April (registrations required)

Storytelling session with Vikram Sridhar, Chennai - 6th April (registrations required)


Theatre based Storytelling workshop, Bangalore - 12th April (registrations required)

Food stories, Bangalore - 12th April (registrations required)

Bengal Art and Literary Festival, New Delhi - 12th-13th April

Surukku Pai storytelling sessions, Chennai - 15th-19th April (registrations required)

Toy story puppetry workshop, Bangalore - 19th April (registrations required)

Bake-A-Tale, Bangalore - 22nd-26th April (registrations required)

From Passion to Page: A Poetry Workshop, Bangalore - 27th April (registrations required)

Tulika Day, Bangalore - 27th April (registrations required)

The Writer's Bug Summer Blast, Mumbai - 28th April -23rd May

Little Reader's Nook : Summer Storytelling Sessions, Mumbai - 21st-25th April28th April - 2nd May (registrations required)

Club Hatch Workshops, Bangalore - throughout the month (registrations required)

Merry-go-learn summer camps, Bangalore - throughout the month (registrations required)

Camp Yakaboo Workshops, Chennai - throughout the month (registrations required)

Kidsstoppress Summer Camp Guide, Mumbai - throughout the month (registrations required)

If you are a publisher who is conducting an event that our readers can attend, please mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org. If you are conducting a fun children's event, send us a link to the event and we may include it in this list.

Also, we just link to events. For more details about events, registration - please write directly to the publisher/organizer.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pratham Books Champions : Storipur and Priya Muthukumar

Priya Muthukumar sent us this lovely story of using the book 'Paplu, the Giant' during a storytelling session held at StoripurAs a student counselor and educator, she enjoys all her interactions with kids. Writing, telling stories and simply being with Mother Nature are few of the many things  she loves to do! Storipur intends to fill up the gaps, through the ancient art form, storytelling. Sharing stories about environment, countries, societies, cultures and about all ourselves: it's Storipur's humble attempt to build responsible communities

After the wonderful response for my storytelling session based on a Caribbean story on our monthly theme, magic’, my search began for a story based on a similar theme, however, I was looking for a story which was fun , with a subtle message incorporated in it. Picking up the book, ‘Paplu, The Giant’ in our local library as my ‘aha’ moment! Flipping through the pages of this thin book, I fell in love with Paplu! From that moment, I knew my young audience would adore Paplu. And that’s how the Paplu journey began for us! 

Our kids (3-10 year olds), I must say, listened to Paplu’s story without batting their eyelids. The youngest of the lot, with all innocence, asked me, with wonder brimming in his eyes, ‘but, Priya Aunty, giant means what?’ So, to explain, Paplu’s height, I grabbed a stool, and balanced myself on it and said, ‘Paplu was soooo very tall!”, stretching my hand. The kids added to the story, saying Paplu was as tall as the tree, as tall as a building, he could touch the sky …… and so on and so forth! Our giggles and chatter continuing, non-stop! 

Each one in our audience pretending to be a villager in the story, enthusiastically draped the dupattas piled at the corner of the room, on me… standing on the stool, pretending to be Paplu! As the dupattas kept falling down, I announced to the group, Paplu will need a proper dress and that we all needed to make it!




As a storyteller, it was definitely a cherishable moment for me, to see all the kids sit around Paplu’s gigantic dress, cutting and sticking, sharing scissors and glue with the only objective of making Paplu, the friendly giant’s dress! We made Paplu’s dress with old newspapers, calendar sheets and other re-useable scrap pieces of paper. This dress- making activity gave us another opportunity to highlight recycling and our responsibility towards our environment. 





We were pleased with Paplu’s dress and the story continued. Paplu’s kindness and strength, both appealed to our kiddos. The words,‘ Priya Aunty, will you tell us another Paplu story, next time! ?”, reconfirmed their love for Paplu. Finally, the kids were asked to draw their own versions of Paplu. And what appeared on paper, was a variety of Paplus, big and small, thin and fat! Many thanks to Team Pratham Books, for introducing us to Paplu! Strength is also about kindness, helping one another, and being there for others was our ‘ take- away’ from Paplu’s story.

Visit the Champions blog for more inspiring stories.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Bibliotherapy Service for Children



Via Time Out Bengaluru

For some weeks, 12-year-old Ravi [name changed on request] had been unusually tense, preoccupied and withdrawn from his friends. Concerned, his parents spoke to Sneha Caroline, manager at Hippocampus Children’s Experience Centre at Koramangala. Caroline suggested that Ravi read Katheryn Cave’s book You’ve Got Dragons, a fantasy tale about a boy whose fears manifest as dragons and how he learns to live with them. “After reading the book, Ravi opened up to his parents that exam fears were worrying him,” said Caroline, adding that thereafter the child found it easier to talk to his parents about school. Such requests often come to the staff at Hippocampus. Parents ask their advice on how they can talk to their children about difficult subjects, and come looking for a book on that particular issue.

After many such requests, Caroline and Hippocampus founding director Vimala Malhotra created a list of bibliotherapy-related books in December last year. These books address issues that trouble children – dealing with parents who are separating, the birth of a new sibling, the death of a pet, puberty or loneliness. Their advice to parents is to share a book with their child and allow them to read unsupervised. “Bibliotherapy, as a concept, is something we’ve recently started to explore. We’ve had a lot of parents asking us if there are any counsellors they could speak to. Though we have no counsellors, our attempt is to give, maybe not a solution, but some answers that can help address this requirement,” said Malhotra. 

While Hippocampus hasn’t made this service a separate programme yet, they hope it will evolve into one. “There are many issues that can at least be introduced to children through books and, though the programme is in its infancy, it’s generating a lot of curiosity already,” said Malhotra, adding that while bibliotherapy can serve as a guideline to helping children through trying times, it cannot be a substitute for a professional psychiatrist or address psychological issues.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Piracy and the Indian Publisher

Nilanjana S Roy writes about the book piracy trade in India.

Via Business Standard
Publishers Weekly estimates that Indian pirates cost the global publishing industry about $36 million a year; we are among the largest book piracy centres in Asia.

The book pirates always get it right: they anoint a few (and only a few) literary writers (Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Vikram Seth), they know when the market shifts from an obsession with The Secret to books by Indian authors on diets. They also know how much the market will stand: the classic story about Chetan Bhagat's success is that the pirates were selling copies of his first book at Rs 150/- when the retail price was Rs 95/- but they still had takers.

Most book pirates have much better market research than most publishers in India. One of the larger pirates - the trade is shifting into the hands of a few large operators who run networks of illegal printers and vendors around the country - gets his news by tracking over 600 distributors and printing presses across the North of India. His charts rate textbook publishers and trade publishers by their track record of bestsellers over a 10-year period. 
As piracy evolves, the book pirates increasingly have access to print technologies that allow them to do their own printing. There are urgent fears that as offset printing of US books shifts to India, among other markets, piracy of books in this segment will boom. The piracy trade and the printing trade are intertwined; publishers try to protect themselves by working only with trusted printers, but once a book's out, it's fair game for the pirates.

The one thing that pirates have that publishers don't is a map of book hunger - but they aren't sharing.
Read the entire article