We chatted with the Goodbooks team to learn more.
Why and when was GoodBooks set up?
www.goodbooks.in is a joint venture by Wipro Applying Thought in School and the Goodbooks Trust. There are plenty of Indian children’s books being produced in the country today but they don’t get the visibility that they deserve. Children’s books are not usually reviewed in literary journals or newspapers and if they are, not many take the trouble to critique them the way they would a book for adults. Our aim is to create a one-stop space where Indian children’s books are in focus: we wish to bridge the gap between publishers/authors/illustrators and their audiences. We also cover news and events from the world of Indian children’s books.
The site went live in December 2013 though we began the spadework for it from 2011 – researching various review sites to bring together the most relevant features, networking with publishers, building a team of reviewers and laying down guidelines for them so we can be assured of high quality, and organizing archival material (reviews of children’s books and articles) that we had sourced from The Book Review journal into more accessible and user-friendly categories.
Who reviews the books?
An independent panel of reviewers composed of people from various walks of life: educators, librarians, writers, illustrators, editors, scientists, researchers. They work with us on a freelance basis. Since we are very particular that the reviews are insightful and approach a book from various angles laid out in our guidelines, we insist on seeing a sample review from a reviewer before we take him/her on board. We don’t want reviews that are general in nature, merely summarizing the story.
What has been the response to the site?
While quite a few big and small publishers have been sending us books regularly, we’d expected that many more would actively participate in this venture to make it successful. Maybe they are taking a wait and watch approach! We need continued support from within the industry and we hope more publishers will hop on board with us soon. Traffic to the site has been on the rise.
Who do you think is the main audience of the site?
We’re primarily a site for promoting good Indian books through professional reviews. The focusis very much on building a group of really good reviewers who take children's books seriously and will be able to critically evaluate all aspects of books. This in turn will help teachers, librarians and parents select good books and increase their awareness about them.
Schools will be the main focus for Goodbooks - they are keen on getting Indian books for their libraries but they have very little information about the books in the market. Goodbooks will provide them with the publishers’ information so that they know how to get the books. Many teachers and librarians have little awareness about how to select good books. The reviews will create that awareness, we hope. In short, the site will help them find information, select and access books.
Any plans of including regional language books?
We will be including regional language books soon. We are talking to a potential partner and when they come on board, information about more than 2000 titles in different languages with links to online sites wherever available, will be given so that readers can buy the books.
Simultaneously we will start the process of reviewing the books. They will also be providing the online store links for the books we review on the site.
How do you see the platform grow?
Future plans include workshops for librarians and reviewers, conferences on children’s literature, exhibitions of children’s book illustrations and instituting awards. The Goodbooks awards, as we see it, are not only an acknowledgement of the growing talent in the field today but also a way to create awareness among all the stakeholders about the fascinating range of Indian children’s books available in the market.
How can someone become a reviewer on Goodbooks?
If you are interested in reviewing books for us, send us your details along with a sample review. However, do go through the guidelines on the site before you do so. You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you Sowmya for sharing more details behind the Goodbooks platform. Good luck with the platform and we look forward to reading more reviews about amazing books by Indian publishers.