Kids & Teens

exclaimed Mudit Mohini, director, Vishv Books and also a children books author, in conversation with SK Khurana, editor, All About Book Publishing (AABP).
AABP: Vishv Books have been into the book publishing for quite some years, when did you initiate publishing children books?

Mudit MohiniMudit Mohini: Vishv Books division was established in 1965 by my father Rakesh Nath. He was always fascinated by book publishing though his main focus remained with magazines publications (Delhi Press). But book publishing was in our roots. My great great grandfather prepared a New Hindustani English Dictionary in 1879 in collaboration with Dr SW Fallon. To print the same dictionary, Delhi Printing Works was established in 1913. Therefore, to keep the book publishing intact, my father used to take out very few books every year. When I joined Delhi Press in the year 2003, I saw one of the books being designed. I thought it should be produced differently and thus started my involvement with Vishv Books. I have always been fascinated by children books since my childhood that is the reason our focus shifted to children books.

AABP: Which is the target audience you cater to?

Mudit Mohini: We target different age groups: from 2 to 80 years. In children’s books section also we have picture books, picture stories, full page stories, novels for young adults and novels for grown ups. Besides these, there are reference books, encyclopedias and self improvement books which are read by all age groups.

AABP: Since lots of children books are illustrative, what kind of designing setup do you have – in-house or outsourced?

Mudit Mohini: When we started publishing, we used to get our designing work outsourced but over the years I have developed my own team of very creative illustrators and graphic designers and now nothing is outsourced. I myself take very keen interest in designing. Our team makes sure that we put in our best efforts and there are no compromises with quality.

AABP: How many titles do you have for children? On an average, how many titles are added every year?

Mudit Mohini with her father Rakesh NathtoMudit Mohini: We have about 300 such titles belonging to different categories as well as indifferent Indian languages. Recently we have also entered school books too from preschool to 5th class of Primary section. On an average, we publish around 80-100 titles a year which include children’s as well as general books.

AABP: What is the average print run of these books? Which are your bestsellers?

Mudit Mohini: Print runs vary with topics and the category of the books. Our initial print run starts from 3,000 to 5,000 copies and on the basis of response, we repeat the print order. Our bestsellers are Vishv Picture Dictionary, Inside the Jungle, Easy coloring Books, Board book series, and Bedtime stories series. Some of Indology books have been sold to the tune of 70,000 to a lakh of copies. General books have varied print orders from 2,000 to 15,000 and have sixth & seventh editions also. In some titles, repeat editions are modified and revised keeping in view of the latest scientific development and other new information coming in.

AABP: Do you also prepare customized children’s books for specific school requirements?

Mudit Mohini: Yes we do it sometimes. For Pragyan School, Greater Noida, we made several books as per their programme incorporating our editorial contents.

AABP: How many authors have you entrusted to create children books? Do you prefer new or renowned authors? What do you think about Indian vis-à-vis foreign authors?

Mudit Mohini: Apart from our own editorial team, we are open to new authors. Some of our authors just walked in with the story and now they have done number of titles with us. We are always keen to look for new authors instead of renowned authors as we believe that everyone should be given chance. Sometimes unknown authors come up with new innovative ideas.

We always believe in promoting Indian authors as they are more aware of Indian surroundings, culture, habits as well as Indian people and their aspirations. But yes, foreign authors are more seasoned and creative and they also put innovative and revolutionary thoughts in their writing style. It will take Indian authors some more years to achieve that.

AABP: What are the challenges in children books industry?

Mudit Mohini: In the book fair or in any book shop, if you pick up any well written and good illustrated book of any renowned publisher, one would find that it has been produced under collaboration with some international company. Baring one or two publishers no one want to invest in creating pool of talented authors, artists or designers from our own country. Most of the big publishers are just buying rights and tying up with international publisher or authors for reprinting. Besides, Indian book industry ownership trends are also fast changing. Foreign book publishers are now on prowl to grab Indian publishing houses so that they are saved with teething troubles of new set up for quick startup and also to reduce their cost.

AABP: Since you are also a children books author, share how you got into writing and how has been the experience?

Mudit Mohini: Initially when I joined the family business, there were very few children books published by Vishv Books. I started revising and redesigning those books which gave me a confidence to write and design children’s books. So far I have authored some more than 100 books. Writing a children’s book is always more fun than writing or designing a book for grown ups. There is no end to what you create for children!!!

says Michel Kripalani, president, Oceanhouse Media, an upcoming global digital publisher for children books in an interaction with All About Book Publishing (AABP).

Oceanhouse Media, Inc. is a leading publisher of mobile apps for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and Android devices. As of January 2011, the company crossed the one million mark of paid app downloads on Apple’s App Store. The company has more than 145 apps, many on Top 100 lists, on the App Store in the books, games, music, photography, health & fitness, reference and finance categories. Children books are high on the list for Oceanhouse Media.

Based in Encinitas, California, Oceanhouse Media was founded in January 2009 by Michel Kripalani, a veteran of the video gaming industry. The company has licensing agreements in place with Dr Seuss Enterprises, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins), Hay House Publishers, Character Arts, Chronicle Books, and others. In many cases, the company works directly with authors to bring their beloved books to the mobile market, always staying true to the original content and intent of the books. Here, Michel Kripalani, president - Oceanhouse Media, Inc, shares a few insights into children ebooks.

AABP: Starting just two years back, Oceanhouse Media has indeed come a long way. How has the journey been so far?

Michel: It’s been a fantastic wild ride for us and we’re very grateful and thankful for how things are going. We definitely hit the ground running. Our first app, Bowls: Authentic Tibetan Bowls, did very well. Landing the Hay House contract was a really great next step for us. In a year and a half since we’ve already delivered close to a hundred apps for them. Landing Dr Seuss Enterprises in the fall of 2009 is really what opened the flood gates for us. That relationship has been fantastic. We’re very happy with the quality of the apps that the team is producing and thankfully the Dr. Seuss apps are introducing us to many more children’s book publishers, authors and agents around the world.

AABP: What was the idea behind this company?

Michel: This is my third startup. In the back of my mind I always thought it would be interesting to own a publishing business. With the introduction of the iPhone and digital distribution of apps it just seemed like a logical place to go. The idea really is to build a new style of digital content publishing firm. We believe we have a unique model of licensing successful products, adapting them, and re-publishing them. We believe we can deliver apps that are uplifting, educational, and inspirational. We are confident that we can create apps that fit squarely in that category and can really help the planet. The team is very focused on building high quality products that people really enjoy.

AABP: How many applications have you developed so far, and in what categories?

Michel: We’ve just shipped our 150th app. We primarily focus on the books category. We do a lot of children’s books, a lot of self-help and metaphysical books, we have some apps in health and fitness, finance and entertainment categories. We’ve also done three games and many tarot card apps. I guess the simple answer is that we are scattered across a wide variety of categories, but we do tend to focus primarily on books, and specifically children’s books.

AABP: Of these, how many eBooks are available?

Michel: If by eBooks you’re asking how many omBooks we’ve created (Oceanhouse Media digital book) then the answer is forty-two. Our plan is to release another 120 omBooks in 2011. We expect that the electronic digital book industry is really going to explode. Most big publishing houses are now looking for ways to get their books on the digital market. It’s where the publishing industry is going. It’s not going to be enough to just have the book in print, consumers are now expecting their favorite titles to be offered in more than one medium.

AABP: Which licensors are you working with and what is the criteria of selecting a particular licensor?

Michel: We are very fortunate to work with some of the best licensors in the business. We have deals in place today with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Hay House, Chronicle Books, Houghton Mifflin, Harper Collins and many others. In terms of selecting a specific licensor we are looking for high quality content that has been well received in the market previously, primarily in book form. We also look for brands that people recognize, especially if they are recognized on a worldwide basis.

AABP: What is the organizational structure of Oceanhouse Media?

Michel: Oceanhouse Media Inc. is a privately held company with a very small number of employees and a larger group of independent contractors that work on a virtual basis.

AABP: What are the Unique Selling Points of Oceanhouse Media?

Michel: We focus on building very high quality apps that we know consumers are going to enjoy. We take content that has already been successful in another format and build a new level of functionality on top of those products as we bring them to mobile devices. We use the multimedia features available to us to transform the original products into even more useful, exciting and educational apps. In particular, the omBooks we’re producing are also contributing to children's literacy. There are many very important tie-ins between the graphics, the text, and the audio in every app. The words highlight perfectly in sync with the narration so that as the child is listening to the words they are also seeing those exact words highlighted on the screen. We support this with picture word association features which allow the child to tap on any picture and see the word enlarged as it’s spoken. Additionally, almost without exception we are then able to offer the digital app version of these products at a cheaper price than their print or film counterpart.

AABP: In your opinion, how big is this market and what is the potential to grow?

Michel: There are about 70 million iPhones in the world, another 70-80 million iPod touches, and 15-20 million iPads. All combined that’s approximately 160-170 million devices. I don’t see why, with the advent of Android taking off and Apple really hitting its stride, there couldn’t be a billion devices worldwide that are capable of running these apps. The sky is really the limit, we’re seeing people using their desktop computers and laptop computers less and less and switching their time over to mobile devices. We’re seeing children much younger in age get access to smart phones and tablets so we are very bullish on the growth. We expect that there is going to be an absolute explosion of hardware and apps and we believe this is the future of publishing.

AABP: What are the future plans?

Michel: We plan to acquire more high quality licenses. We are always looking to expand our team. Our goal is to become one of the leading, if not the leading children’s book digital publisher in the world. This however is such a fast moving industry, there’s no way to know what it’s really going to look like tomorrow or next year, so we just try to stay on top of our game and ready for the next big thing.

HarperCollins to publish manuscript discovered on teen writing site

HarperCollins Publishers recently announced the first acquisition from inkpop (, its interactive website for teen writing. Slated for Fall 2011, The Carrier of The Mark, by debut author Leigh Fallon, is a fresh and thrilling paranormal romance linking two teens to a supernatural destiny.

Fallon, a native of Cork, Ireland, tried to get her manuscript published through conventional channels. She started by contacting agents and eventually took a less traditional route. She heard about inkpop through a writing group and decided to upload her manuscript. Within weeks her manuscript was voted into the coveted “Top Five” by the inkpop community and was reviewed by an editor at HarperCollins. A few emails later, she signed her first book deal with HarperCollins for World English rights.

Inkpop combines community publishing, user-generated content, and social networking to connect rising stars in teen literature with talent-spotting readers and publishing professionals. In just over a year, inkpop traffic has grown by nearly 500 percent. With over 60,000 projects uploaded, the highly engaged members spend an average of over 20 minutes per visit on the site.

Asian Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference

Once upon a cyberspace, children explored the world through libraries, bedtime tales and story books. Books are still around, but they are looking different. As technology puts media access into children’s pockets and bedrooms, how do content makers stay connected with connected kids? Get the answers at The Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) in Singapore from May 26-28, 2011. Organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore and The Arts House, this festival is back - bigger, better and bolder. The conference director is R Ramachandran, Singapore while conference consultant is Pooja Makhijani.

There would be an interesting sessionon ‘What is the Future of Children’s Publishing?’ Then, there would be a symposium on Asian Children’s Publishers Other highlights include Asian Children’s Media Summit, Asian Primary and Preschool Teachers Congress, Asian Media Mart.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (translated in Hindi)

Author: Mark Twain
Publisher: Kalyani Navyug Media
(Pp 68, ISBN 978-93-800280-2-6)

The stories of Mark Twain will always remain one of the most read classics, the popular one amongst children being ‘The adventures of Tom Sawyer’ and ‘The adventures of Huckleberry Finn’. Campfire (Kalyani Navyug Media) has brought out a graphic novel on Huckleberry Finn in Hindi. The language is simple and the visuals are beautiful. The book is full of adventurous life of a ragamuffin – Huckleberry Finn, a close friend of Tom Sawyer. Children will love his carefree attitude and his careless ventures.

The Wind in the Willows

Author: Kenneth Grahame
Publisher: Kalyani Navyug Media Pvt Ltd
(Pp 88, ISBN 978-93-80028-81-1)

This is a new initiative of Kalyani Navyug Media, where they have developed a workbook for CBSE. Utilizing the powerful visual capabilities of the graphic novel, Campfire workbook aims to educate children in the classics of yesterday, while simultaneously promoting visual literacy and developing essential communication skills. This will foster a love for reading, while helping children develop vital comprehension capabilities.

Wind in the Willows is a workbook for classes V and VI, where the classic story has been retold in the form of a graphic novel. Each page has a glossary of new words for children and each chapter is followed by a set of questions and activities to help children understand it better. All efforts have been made to make the book attractive to young readers – the visuals are breath-taking.

3D Coloring Book for Kids for iPhone users

ComboApp, a leading educational publishing and marketing agency, is currently offering their ‘3D Coloring Book for Kids: Pets’ digital art utility. This engaging coloring app for the iPhone and iPod touch is developed specifically for children’s use. True to its namesake, 3D Coloring Book for Kids: Pets offers users the ability to draw in three dimensions rather than two, allowing them to rotate and move original content around within the app.

Interactive discussion on books for the early readers

National Centre for Children’s Literature, a wing of National Book Trust organized an interactive discussion on the topic ‘Books for the early readers: Concepts and visuals’ on December 15, 2010 at their premises in New Delhi. Satish Kumar, director, NBT welcomed the speakers and the guests present on the occasion. He emphasized the relevance of the topic with the present day scenario as children have access to various kinds of media like television, computers, video games etc. The books, therefore, should also be appealing.

Dr Varsha Das, eminent author and editor, and Jagdish Joshi, renowned illustrator presented their views on the pre-school books in the 21st century. Dr Das drew attention to the millions of children deprived of any kind of interaction with books. She also stressed “early readers should read books in their mother tongue.” She also suggested that the stories should relate to real life characters so that they may relate themselves with the characters. The stories should contain subjects which children of a particular age group which children can identify. Joshi was also of the view that children like realistic illustrations and coordination between the writer and illustrator is the key to a good illustrated story book.

says Shamim Padamsee, author of AWIC award-winning children book ‘The silly story of Bondapilli.’

Shamim Padamsee is a writer who has been through several avatars in her life – educationist, globe-trotter, social worker, businesswoman, diplomat, mother and grandmother. She is passionately interested in children’s literature and believes that books are important learning tools. Here, Shamim shares her love for writing and her experiences with writing.

On writing…

Shamim Padamsee with a group of childrenThe seeds of writing were sown a long, long time ago when I was growing up. However, it lay dormant until they started to get watered by my rich experiences in the field of education and nurtured by the sunshine brought into my life with the coming along of grandchildren.

As a child I loved to read, however due to lack of indigenous books I read mostly ‘foreign’ stories. I read Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series and other such books and realized that something was missing. Those kids were not like me. They lived differently, ate different foods, and had different festivals, in other words they were from a different world. Whilst I enjoyed the stories, I felt a disconnect. And then, when my kids were growing up again, it was the same. And so, I started making up stories for my children. Stories of Indian children, Indian animals, Indian festivals and more. I wanted my children to discover and know India.

Soon my grandkids started coming along. Luckily, however, many Indian publishers today are bringing out interesting India specific books for children but we definitely need much, much, more.

Most difficult part of writing…

The hard part is holding a pen to the paper and getting started. However, once I start and get into the swing of it, words just flow. I love writing. It is so amazing to be able to mould the story any which way you want. Right from how the story will begin to how it will end!

Unlike what most people think, writing for children is not as easy as it looks. For one thing, one has to grab the attention of the child as soon as possible the story has to move quickly and has to be told in as few words as possible. Long winding descriptive sentences that are used for adults are a definite no-no! The important thing to keep in mind is that whatever the message of the story it has to engage the child – only then will they develop a love for reading.

On her book ‘The silly story of Bondapalli’…

Bondapalli started with an episode in Chennai. My sister was visiting me. As we chomped on the Bondas, as usual we started to worry about the impact of this delicious snack on our figures. One thing led to another and soon the Silly Story of Bondapalli was born.

Infact, Bondapalli is a fun story that has a lot of play on words. I think that the child in me came alive when I started to write it, and egged on by my two little grandchildren ideas and thoughts tumbled and bounced all over the story!

I was happily surprised when I received a mail from Tulika, my publishers telling me about the award from AWIC. But, my real reward comes from the fact that so many kids are enjoying the book. In fact, parents tell me that their kids want to read the story over and over again and some are even asking me to write a sequel!

Advice to young authors…

One of the most important qualities of getting your work published is Perspiration, Patience and Perseverance. The three most important P’s! Believe me, having patience and perseverance is equally as difficult as the perspiration bit, if not more. After all you have penned down the most amazing story – according to you, the author, and then you are surprised as to why the publishers don’t all rush and grab it. Sometimes an author feels rejected, when his or her work gets rejected. Writing is love’s labour. And one must persevere and who knows someday suddenly you get an acceptance letter and feel on top of the world! So, that brings me back to the first P – Perspiration. Even after one’s story is written, there is still a lot more to do.

What I am reading…

As to what I’m reading today, it is mostly children’s books, especially Young Adult. There are some amazing books out there. I recently read the book Just a Train Ride Away by Tulika. It is set in the pre-independence era. What a great way of learning our history! I also read Faces in the Water by Puffin, dealing with the very serious subject of female infanticide in an amazingly appealing manner.

Advice to parents…

Read to your child from a very young age. Not only it is fun but is also beneficial in so many ways. One, it helps mental growth, two, it helps the child’s vocabulary, three, it will open up new horizons for the child, giving him a window to the world, so to say. If children grown up with TV as a source of entertainment, you can’t blame them for not reading!

On my next books…

I love to write. In fact, I write prolifically. Anything that catches my attention is converted into a story. Next year should see the release of some more of my stories, a series of adventures with Puffin and a couple more with Tulika.

conveyed Jai Saxena of BPI India in conversation with Varsha Verma.

Jai SaxenaKids market is not a dated market, as nothing is outdated and that’s the beauty of this business and publishing in itself is an interesting activity,” told Jai Saxena, director-Strategy & Business Development, BPI India Pvt Ltd.

BPI was flagged off in the year 1999 but it was just four years back that the company took children publishing very seriously. The company has carved a niche in publishing scenario with skill pool of refreshing writers, iron-fisted editors, dream designers and efficacious production team of enthusiasts. “Earlier, we did a few generic books and then we did licensing in a big way with prominent entities like Cartoon Network. It was the ‘MAD’ series of art books which actually got us into publishing in a big way. Infact, MAD is now available in regional languages like Marathi and Malayalam which is doing very well,” told Jai.

“We are now taking a step ahead and developing school textbooks using branded characters. For example, we are doing MAD for Tata McGraw-Hill. The ideation and licensing for these books is with us. We are also doing more such projects with them and another leading publisher S. Chand & Co,” informed Jai.

Another best seller from BPI include Ben 10 colouring books. “We wish to offer a larger product range to our customers. We think differently and need to take books and toys for children to a next level,” added Jai. “We also deal in corporate supplies wherein we develop customised products (books/toys) as per the needs of the corporate. Spicejet and Pepsi are two such clients for whom we have developed unique products,” he said further.

Talking about the factors kept in mind while creating a children’s book, Jai told that it is very important to visualize how good the book will look to a kid’s eyes. “Infact, we recommend reading to infants. For them, we have big pictorial books with one liner. Then, we also offer Indian literature like Tagore and Premchand on colourful, glossy paper, which gives a different feel to children.”

The company has also strategically diversified into edutainment, offering puzzles, activity books, art & craft books/games and other interactive board games. “Edutainment is a serious business. The traditional way of education is boring but the new schools have revolutionized the learning process. Now, schools work hard on kids and activity games play a major role in dealing with special needs children like dyslexic students. Our current hits among puzzles are those based on cartoon characters ‘Ninja Hathori’ and ‘Oggy and the Cockroaches.’ Then, there is a game called ‘Hack attack’ based on hacking and computer viruses, which is very popular. Infact, we have toped in an ex-IITian for board games,” he added.

Today, BPI is synonymous to excellence in content, design and quality in children’s publishing scenario. They have a well-qualified team of 29 people, most of whom are designers. “I like to invest a lot in designing and illustrations. I have a huge collection of beautiful creations. My wife Vidya, who is a graduate from JJ School of Arts takes care of the designing needs. Besides, we have a sales team all over India. We have direct accounts with all big retail chains and have separate distributors for books and toys,” he told.

On asking about their USPs, Jai replied that they always try to do what others have not even thought of. “It was us, who started character based publishing. We were also the first ones to bring large print stories in Hindi, which were later translated into nine languages. Another USP of our company is our presence in regional language publishing. We have as many as 70 titles in Tamil.”

Coming to ebooks, Jai shared that good reading would never be obsolete. “It is very important for educational publishing to go for ebooks. Besides, we are also going with the trend and investing in e-media.”

Talking about his future plans, Jai revealed that they are set to launch 100 titles of young fiction for children aged 8-14 years by March 2011. “These titles are licenses from a UK based publisher and some of the series would include Ms Wiz, Grk, Agent Amelia, MRJ etc. In the series on MRJ, the character MRJ travels to different countries. There, we have beautiful pictures and information on all that a kid would like to see in that country. We are also going in for merchandising in a big way, which would be sold through retail stores. We have also tied with a few schools, where these titles would be available in their libraries,” he added. “Later, we also plan to rope in a few Indian authors for children books. Action games which kids love to play would also be on the cards.”

“The challenge for us is to reach the world markets by adopting new methods and new packaging. Our goal is to reach the UK and the American markets. Also, we would like to be known as the destination for kids not just for publishing but also for toys, stationery, e-learning, etc. We need to be recognized as a quality company for kids with a different thought process,” concluded Jai.