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

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tamil Writers Try Out E-Publishing

Great to see that one of our translators Naga Chokkan is also mentioned in this article.

 Via The Hindu
A group of contemporary Tamil writers is trying to break the shackles the local publishing industry has created with regard to electronic publishing. 
They are releasing their works for free in smart device-friendly formats — ePUB and mobi — through the website — 
Writers such as N. Chokkan, Payon and Pa. Raghavan have already released their works under the Creative Commons licence. 
Though they have released them for free, they say they are encouraged by the response so far. 
Chokkan, who released his ‘out of print’ biography on Oscar winner A.R. Rahman, coinciding with his birthday, says he is overwhelmed by the response. 
“There were over 5,000 downloads in three days. The cover price of the print edition was Rs. 80. I have requested readers to pay as they wish. One reader paid Rs. 1,000 by electronic transfer,” he says. 
T. Shrinivasan, who coordinates the free Tamil e-books website, recently conducted a workshop at Tamil Virtual Academy to help authors publish in the formats themselves. 
“There is hardly any contemporary Tamil literature available on the Web. Our initiative is to help create new avenues to help this,” he says.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Notes from the Global Reading Materials Repository Workshop

Our Chairperson Suzanne Singh attended the recently held Global Reading Materials Repository Workshop. She shares her experience from the workshop in this post.

Pratham Books was invited to attend a consultation convened by USAID, World Vision, Australian Aid, Library of Congress and Innocentive on creating a Global Repository of early reading material. The participants were organizations working on improving early reading in different parts of the world, content providers, librarians, teachers, education technologists and literacy experts. 

There were several organizations that were working in Africa and we were the only ones from India. The meeting was fittingly held at the Jefferson Building in the Library of Congress in Washington DC which is a beautiful heritage building that supposedly houses a copy of every book printed in USA. The Library of Congress also houses one of the most delightful children’s libraries that I have ever seen called the Center for the Book. 

The objective of the meeting was to validate the need for global repository of reading materials given that several minority languages across the world have a serious shortage of early reading materials for children. And to further brainstorm the possible form and features of such a repository and identify ways to overcome obstacles to its development.

The meeting opened with Christie Vilsack, the former First lady of Iowa who is a passionate advocate of libraries and their invaluable role in promoting reading and learning among children, sharing her personal experiences with children in Malawi. We shared our approach as an alternative publishing model that is facilitating multilingual literacy development in India and it was very well received. We also got to display our books in the grand halls of the Jefferson Building. Our open content policy had already opened a number of doors for us as other participant organizations like World Reader, Bookshare and the African Storybook Project were already using our books as part of their work. 

We spent two wonderfully enriching days immersed in sharing experiences, developing new ideas and approaches which will hopefully contribute to getting the Global Repository for early reading material in several languages off the ground.

RivoKids Parents and Kids Choice Awards

The award season is here! RivoKids has launched the Parents and Kids Choice Awards and  here's your chance to nominate your favourite books by Pratham Books. Which of our books have you and your kids revisited numerous times? Which book have you loved so much that you continue to buy it to gift it to all the kids you know? Which characters have you fallen in love with? Which books did you pack to take with you on the holidays? Which did you recommend to other parents, kids and teachers? Nominate one, nominate two or nominate five of your favourite books. And do not forget to get your kids to send in their recommendations!

Via RivoKids

RivoKids & Hindustan Times Student Edition bring to you Parents and Kids Choice Awards 2014 in 3 Age Groups (0-5, 5-10 and 10-15 years), across 5 Categories (Books - Indian and International Authors, Toys & Games, Websites & YouTube Videos and Mobile Apps).

Come meet our Jury and submit your nominations! Check it out today! The best part is that we are giving away Prizes. Lots of them! Win Books from Penguin, Duckbill, Pratham Books, Scholastic India, Hachette and Rupa Red Turtle. Win coupons and vouchers from ZoomIn, MeritNation, MadRat and SnapDeal. All you have to do is submit your nomination today for our Parents and Kids Choice Awards.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Notes from the Field : Samiksha Foundation

Last year, we were looking for NGOs and schools to donate 'Library-in-a-classroom' kits to. Over the past few months, we have been receiving reports and pictures of how the books are being used by kids in different parts of India. The following report was sent to us bySamiksha Foundation. 

Samiksha is a Creative Learning Initiative for children with cancer and their caregivers.We provide the non-medical support - educational, spiritual and creative - required for these children within the hospital environment. Samiksha Foundation carries out its programs at Kapur Ward, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology.

On how Pratham Books are useful to Samiksha Foundation

Samiksha has setup a library at the hospital for these children and our teachers/volunteers help cataloging ,maintaining the library,help children read books. Older children also get to borrow books ,read them on their own/with parent and return them to the library.

We are delighted to add Pratham's "library-in-a-classroom' grant books to our library collection at Samiksha.

Children with cancer have a right to proper education! 
The children are hospital bound with limited activities.They miss school, learning , fun and games that comes with a normal childhood. Samiksha fills this gap and brings education and fun to the children (at the hospital) while they are being treated at the hospital. This way the children will be able to be in touch with reading/writing ,academics and can go back to school with less/no difficulty..

Joy of Reading !
We use books to bond - "It's not just about academic success and supporting literacy- its also more about making children/caretaker value their time..and help these children in distress to express their emotions and experience the joy of reading which in many times, lifts the spirits of children/care-taker and gives them more positive ways to relate them to life outside the hospital..

We have children of different age-groups, speaking different mother-tongues, studying in different mediums.
Since Pratham books are available in many regional languages and in many reading levels, this is so perfect for Samisksha to meet every child's reading needs and to bring the smile/joy on their faces when they get to pick their favorite book or to read a book in their preferred language/mother-tongue.

Children love Pratham Books!

Here is a feedback from our samiksha teacher Ms.Parvathy ..(see attached image of her reflection on Pratham Books in her own words, hand-written in kannada)..She shared that children love these books - kolam/rangoli patterns , village ambience, folk-tales, nature- themed ones with big banana plants , fluttering butterflies , all and many more in their favorites list..:)

And so here it is .at Samiksha...'A Book in every child's hand' ,thanks to Pratham Books!

Thank you Samiksha Foundation for helping us spread the joy of reading.

Small Treasures

A little something I found in the depths of my inbox. This gorgeous collage of pictures was sent to us by the Akshar Bharati team. Please click on the image below to see how lovely all the individual pictures are. Have a lovely weekend full of books, stories! Oh, don't forgot to craft a story for our remix contest.

P.S - If you are an organization/school and use our books, we would love to hear stories of our books being used in classrooms. Please mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org with your stories/pictures.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest is Back

Can you make World Storytelling Day special with a 10?

As Pratham Books turns ten, we bring you 10 months of non-stop celebrations. We are kickstarting the celebrations with our Annual Remix Contest on World Storytelling Day (20th March). 

Give us your best, remixed, TENTASTIC story! 

What you need to do: Check available illustrations. Dream up a story. This year’s theme is ‘10’, so make sure your story uses only ten illustrations apart from the cover page. Write your story. Email it to us. Be original. 

If in doubt, take a look at the sample story written by our editor Mala Kumar - ‘Mezzo, Tazo and Jaggu’. 

The first prize winner gets a printed, laid-out version of the winning story. 

Click here to download the illustrations, contest rules and the remixed book, all at one go.

Contest guidelines
  • Contest will be for two categories :  Above 16 years and below 16 years.
  • You can send in your entries in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil or Urdu.
  • This year’s theme is ‘10’, so make sure your story uses only ten illustrations apart from the
    cover page.
  • Please send your entries in PDF, Word or Power Point format to
    along with your name, age, language of entry with the email subject line as “The Retell, Remix,
    Rejoice contest”
  • The contest deadline has been extended to 25th May, 2014
  • Results will be announced on our blog and website on or before June 30, 2014.
  • Got any queries? Email us at
*By submitting your work you agree to a “Creative Commons – Attribution – Share Alike license” being
applied to it. While we encourage participation from all countries, prizes shall be couriered only within India.
In case winning entry is not from India, we will lay out the book and send you a high res pdf to print locally.

(a little tidbit : Did you know that one of the submissions to our contest even got selected, tweaked and published by another publisher. Awesome right? Ok, off you go ... put on your thinking caps and send us your whacky remixed story.)

We're 10! Come, celebrate with us!

We're in a mood to celebrate. And it won't be fun unless you, our dear readers and supporters, get into the spirit. It seems like yesterday that Pratham Books was established, and it feels nice and warm to know that at least 50 million readers have our book in their hands. It has been a joy creating over 260 titles in upto 12 languages, and we hope to do a lot more in the next decade! A big THANKS to every supporter of Pratham Books!

And now it's time for fun and games, contests and prizes, yoohoo! In the next ten months, expect something new each month. Get to know our books and characters. Participate with your friends and family. Stay tuned to hear some wonderful things brewing here. Be part of the reading movement!

Start with it today, World Storytelling Day! Tell a child a story. Enter our Remix, Retell, Rejoice Contest. By doing this you will be setting stories free into the world to be read by eager young children. Let the magic begin!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review : Too Much Noise

R's Mom reviews one of our newest books ' Too Much Noise' on Indian Moms Connect.

Sringeri Srinivas is back and are we happy We have been big fans of Sringeri Srinivas. And when Pratham Books announced that they had put up a free downloadable version on the net, we grabbed the opportunity to read it.

Too Much Noise written by Noni and illustrated by Angie and Upesh, the book is as delightful as the previous one. This one is longer than the previous one, but the story line is simple and deals with the usual everyday life of a person as the last one did.

What we loved about the book?

1. It’s free
2. The simple story line
3. The absolutely adorable illustrations
4. Simple solutions to everyday problems
5. The usage of simple language
6. The availability of the book in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamizh and Telugu!
7. The lesson to kids that often, what seems to be a complex problem, has the simplest of solutions. Don’t look too far for a solution, it’s just somewhere near you
8. The subtle indication to noise pollution especially traffic related. It’s not really on-the-face, but there is a message hidden in the book, which the kids will definitely assimilate the message.

And of course, the adorable character of Sringeri Srinivas.

You can access the book for FREE in the following ways:
1. Read/download the book
2. Access the Interactive Book App from Mangoreader (English, Hindi, Marathi)
3. Watch the animated story created by BookBox
4. Listen to the audio stories created by Radio Mirchi

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Growth of E-books and Self-Publishing

Business Insider writes about how e-books are enticing Indians while authors are leveraging self-publishing technology.

Via Business Insider

According to a survey carried out in October last year, India had around 55.48 crore mobile users and 14.32 crore Internet users, and mobile penetration stood at a whopping 70.96% in the country. In a nutshell, an average Indian is open to experimenting with technology and e-books could be a gadget of choice in the near future.

"We thought e-books would take about 10 years to become a norm in India, compared to the west. The west opened up to e-readers and simply integrated it into its lifestyle, but we thought India would not change that fast. Even now, digital publishing and e-book readers are not the norm here. But in two years or less, things will surely change," says an editor working with HarperCollins India.

Yes. Even the statistics confirm that e-books are yet to become a rage in India. PricewaterhouseCoopers' study of e-book trends showed a staggering 9% growth in the western markets, which is projected to grow to 22% by 2017. In India, however, the market is a mere 1%, with projections still unclear. On the flip side, it also means that the e-reader market is quite huge here and its growth potential is still untracked in India.

The reason is simple. Most contemporary Indian authors are now tech-savvy and realise the possibilities of technology-aided reach, which could be better than traditional publishing and distribution. Moreover, in spite of signing formal contracts with publishing houses, many authors have now realised that self-publishing an e-book ensures better reach-out to target audience and of course, bigger royalties.

The 'early bird' syndrome is another emerging trend in the Indian market. The pecking order has changed and the first-time authors, who used to make a beeline for publishing houses, are now opting to self-publish their books on the Internet, thus getting a clear picture of their book sales. Now, it is the turn of conventional publishing houses to woo them back into their fold, with increased royalty or added advantages. But even then, an author may opt for self-publishing it on Amazon or any other suitable platform.

With e-publishing in place, the market players are realising the full potential of regional languages and their popularity. Most of the NRI population is still loyal to their native literature. So self-publishing in regional languages could be an equally profitable proposition.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review : Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth

Nandini Nayar reviews our book 'Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth' on Teacher Plus.

Via Teacher Plus

Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth by Madhav Gadgil has all the elements of a bookok that will be enjoyed both by children and grown-ups.

Narrated by the well-known ecologist Dr. Madhav Gadgil, Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth is a book that seamlessly weaves fact and fiction to create a storyline that resonates with genuine solutions to the very real problems of our world. That these problems are nature related and the solutions suggest ways of protecting nature makes this a book that is very relevant today. Muchkund is a wonderful character, breezy and carefree but with a strong sense of what is right and wrong. In today’s use and throw world, a hero like Muchkund is not only unusual but deserving of praise. His earnest desire to protect the bees is commendable. All too often a good plan remains unsuccessful because of a few selfish people. Vali ably represents this selfish section of society, intent only on fulfilling his own desires. But it is the determination of the other bears to punish Vali in order to continue the good work begun by Muchkund that really surprised me. The decision of the bears to punish one of their own people sends out a strong message of how unity and a vision for the future is an essential ingredient for the success of any plan.

Maya Ramaswamy’s wonderfully detailed illustrations not only entertain, they also educate. The book provides relevant information about bees, ghosts, and bee hives in a way that does not interfere with the narrative. Rather, it helps add another layer to what is a well-written story and ensures that we take away much more than a story when we finish the book.

This large sized book, sumptuously published by Pratham Books, is a joy to behold. At Rs. 55 it is a steal and an investment that parents and educators should not hesitate to make, considering the many hours of fun and information it will give children.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Neil Gaiman on Copyright Piracy

Neil Gaiman shares his thoughts on how piracy may not necessarily be a bad thing and how the web is helping him reach new audiences.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Importance of Language Diversity

At Pratham Books, we publish books in more than 11 Indian languages. But we realize that this is definitely not enough to reach the child in the last village and it is not enough to get 'a book in every child's hand'. As we constantly work towards crossing linguistic barriers and getting our books into the hands of children, this article on language diversity is a timely reminder.

Via livemint

India is celebrated for its rich linguistic diversity, but has never had an exhaustive record of its languages—till now. The ambitious People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI), a project that began in 2010 with the aim of documenting every living language in the country, has been completed. Led byGanesh Devy , a 63-year-old linguist and 2011 Unesco Linguapax laureate, a team of over 3,000 volunteers comprising academics, farmers, authors, school teachers, linguists, nomads and activists, have mapped the linguistic contours of India. The count is a staggering 780 distinct languages. What makes PLSI unique is that it maps those languages that may have less than 10,000 speakers, and are thus not recognized by government census surveys. The 2001 Census lists 122 languages.

Apart from the cultural aspect, why is linguistic diversity desirable?
Language today has become an economic capital around the world. The future technology—computers, mobile tech—their basic material is language. Having many tongues will come to be seen, in a not so distant future, as great economic capital.

Research has shown a strong correlation between improved cognitive abilities in children when they are taught in their mother tongue in primary school...
If you don’t teach a child in the language that he or she uses at home, then what you impose on the child is called “aphasia”—the cutting of the child’s tongue. How do we teach young children in their own language? I don’t know that. But we haven’t even figured out what kind of institution, what kind of system we need to impart primary education. If we have foodgrains, but not enough godowns, are we going to throw them in the ocean? Or should we look for innovative ways and systems to save them and use them? We should not be looking at language as a developmental liability, but as an economic asset.

If you like our books and want to translate them into a language we do not publish in, please take any of our Creative Commons licensed books and remix them. Let us know once you've translated it and we can help layout the book and share it with the world.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Our Books Join the 'Little BookBoxers' Gang

Last month, you had a chance to see the wonderfully animated video of our new book 'Too Much Noise'. The awesome folks at BookBox have animated a few of our Creative-Commons licensed books and they are part of a brand new series called 'Little BookBoxers'.

 Through this series we would like to provide stories that are simple and fun for toddlers (2 to 4 year olds) who have just started reading and learning languages. 
As always, our stories are powered by Same Language Subtitling (SLS) that helps improve reading and language learning, subconsciously.
Currently four of our books are being hosted on their YouTube Channel and they have been collectively viewed 44,000+ times. Phew!

Thank you BookBox Team for making this exciting versions of our books available for young readers. 

Visit the BookBox website to learn more about the work they do!

If you are unable to watch the videos in this post, please click on the links below to watch them:
1. The Moon and the Cap
2. Bunty and Bubbly
3. Vayu, the Wind
4. Too Much Noise

Leave a comment and let us know which animated story you like the best. Happy watching!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Re-inventing Hindi Literature

Manoj Sharma writes about young turks who are re-inventing Hindi literature.

A new breed of writers in Hindi, many of them IIT-IIM graduates, are seeking to become the agents of a new revolution in Hindi literature. Their protagonists represent the young, resurgent India and its problems as well as dreams. 
The idea was to make the book look cool,” says Dubey. He belongs to a new line of authors in Hindi who are rewriting the rules of the game. Their aim is to take their books to a whole new generation of Hindi readers. Dubey aspires to be a Chetan Bhagat of Indian writing in Hindi as far as accessibility and entertainment value of his books are concerned. 
“The reason why Hindi does not have new, popular bestsellers like those in English, is because most of those writing in Hindi are stuck in a time warp, telling stories that aspirational youth of today cannot relate to. My stories in Hindi tackle subjects that the youth can immediately identify with,” says Dubey, 32, an engineer and MBA by education, who presently works as a marketing manager with a leading cellular company in Mumbai. 
“I could have easily written my book in English, but I thought my stories will be better told in Hindi. There is a wrong notion in Hindi literary world that only those who are MA and PhD in Hindi can write books in the language. Writers like me are trying to change that perception,” says Sachan, who works with an MNC in Gurgaon as a consultant. 
“These writers are not only choosing their topics wisely but also know how to promote their books. The success of Hindi translations of the books of writers such as Chetan Bhagat and Ravinder Singh are a testimony to the fact that if Hindi publishers had promoted these writers they could also have scripted similar success stories,” says Prabhat Ranjan, a Hindi writer who has translated works of many well-known English writers such as Vikram Chandra, Mohsin Hamid and Khushwant Singh. 
Shailesh Bharatwasi, 30, an engineer by education who founded a Hindi publishing house by the name of Hind Yugm in 2010, says that he is trying to do what most established publishers should have done long back. “Instead of finding new, young writers in Hindi who wish to experiment with themes, plots and language they are only re-printing classics. They are not willing to take risks," says Bharatwasi.

Call for Submissions : Book Illustrators Gallery

Something of interest for our illustrator friends.

Via Asian Festival of Children's Content

The Book Illustrators Gallery (BIG) is part of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) from 30 May – 4 June 2014. BIG aims to showcase the works of local and regional illustrators and artists – across genres and borders – and promote them to a wider audience.

You are invited to submit artwork that has appeared in children’s books, audio/video products, comics or graphic novels or games, published between January 2013 and March 2014. You should submit a maximum of 5 pieces of artwork. Please do not re-enter artwork submitted to BIG in previous years.

The closing date for submission of digital copies is 13 March 2014.

Click here for more information on submission guidelines.

Monday, March 3, 2014

WWE Champion 'Big Show' Meets Our 'Pehelwanji'

Recently, we had an opportunity to work with WWE Wrestler Big Show. A collaboration between Zee TV, Ten Sports, WWE and Pratham Books resulted in interactive sessions with kids from Pratham Learning centres in Delhi and Mumbai. We, of course, were thrilled to participate and introduce the book 'Pehelwanji' to young readers.

Purnendu from our Delhi team said:
Children started interacting with him by asking his real name (his real name is Paul) and his weight. Big show was really humble and he signed our Pehelwanji books and also autographed an A4 size picture of his for the kids. The kids reciprocated his gesture by handing out a handmade greetings and thank you card. Out of 20 cards he really liked 2 cards. It was really fun for the children and they were happy to get this beautiful opportunity.
Big Show meeting kids in Delhi
Raviraj from our Mumbai team shared:
Today we met Pehelwanji - and he doesn't drink milk! Big Show is a really big guy but he is very cool, frank and polite to everyone. Today (Valentine's Day) is very special for him as 14th February, 1999 was when he debuted at WWF.
The session went off well and the kids were very happy to see a 7 foot Pehelwanji.

Sampurna from our Mumbai team was also thrilled to meet Big Show. She said:
He is such a lovable hulk! I had never met a wrestler before and wrestling bouts are not my cup of coffee. But this 7ft 400 pounder is just too cute. We had the most interesting conversation on a wide variety of things . You can see what a hit he was with the kids from the pictures.
Even Big Show was sharing picures on his Twitter account:
Navbharat Times also carried this photo and The Hindu carried an adorable picture of Big Show and the kids.

Thank you Big Show for spreading your love and the joy of reading!

For those who want to hear the Pehelwanji story, you can hear it at:

The Trend of Book Trailers

Arundhati Hazra writes that the trend of book trailers may be catching up in India

Marketing efforts are an increasingly elaborate affair, with multi-city book tours, use of Facebook and Twitter to interact with readers, and more recently, book trailers.

The book trailer draws on the interconnectivity of today’s world, where readers can view the trailer online before reading the book on their tablets or e-readers. Says Mukul Khattar of Inknuts, an Indian creative agency that produces book trailers: “Though a book trailer serves the same purpose as a blurb, its reach is far more. It has the ability to grab the limited attention span of readers, and engage youth hooked on social media. Publishers also play their book trailers at book launches, OOH and LiveMedia outlets, providing visibility to the book. Book trailers also serve as a great presentation tool, helping independent authors to make an impactful pitch and find a publisher.”

In India too, the trend of the book trailer has caught on, with publishing houses like Harper Collins and Westland releasing trailers for some of their major publications. Authors, too, are upbeat about the medium. Says author Ashwin Sanghi, “A trailer increases a potential reader’s awareness of a title and thus makes him or her more likely to purchase it when he or she sees it among several other titles on the racks of a book shop. The trailer I made for my book The Rozabal Line had over 50,000 views in a month. I think the trailer played a vital role in pushing awareness for the book.”

Authors play a major role in the conceptualization of book trailers. Says Dhar: “The author plays an important role in terms of working with the producer on the theme, key ideas, visuals etc.” Sanghi concurs. “In both Chanakya’s Chant and The Krishna Key, the central shloka from the book was used as the soundtrack. Once we have a soundtrack, I personally develop the storyboard that would convey the key elements of the novel while not giving away too much. The storyboard and soundtrack are passed on to the agency which has the task of putting together appropriate visuals.”

Read the entire article.

And here's a book trailer we like :)