“There is no end to what we can create for children”
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!!!