“Children enjoy stories in any format”

says Shobha Viswanath, Publishing Director, Karadi Tales, on her views on digital
publishing for children books.

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Digital publishing — ebooks, audiobooks, etc — have become an important part of publishing and children books are no exception. More and more children book publishers are going the digital way.

“We launched digital publishing in 1996 with audiobooks. Our first ebook might have been created around 12 years ago, though we formally ventured into third party platforms many years later once these platforms became more common,” tells Shobha Viswanath , Publishing Director, Karadi Tales.

“Our digital publications currently include e-versions of our picture books or audio books, available through third party platforms such as Google Play Books, Audible, Storytel and OverDrive. Apart from this, our partner company Karadi Path uses proprietary apps and other digital learning platforms that feature our content in innovative ways,” she adds.

On asking about the percentage of books available as digital, Shobha replied, “Most of the titles in our picture book catalogue are currently available as digital books, with the rest on their way. As for audiobooks, the percentage is currently around 50%.”

We believe that no reader is too young for an audio book, for auditory learning is hugely important for brain development even for infants

Children and ebooks…

“Children enjoy stories in any format – rather than segment them into ebooks or physical books (or CDs/USB drives), children focus on the experience of enjoying the story. Whether it’s in the form of a reading (or listening) device or a book in their hands, as long as there is no compromise on the production quality, the end result is the same,” says Shobha.

Children and audio books…

“Audio books are a bridge for children who are starting to become independent readers. The experience of having a story told to them is vital for their emotional and mental development, apart from the benefits of learning from the story itself – be it the ability to process or tell a story in logical sequence, absorb an implicit message, or understand how language is used, an audio book checks all the boxes. When music and page turn cues are added (where audio books are accompanied by books with pictures and text such as in Karadi Tales), the child sometimes gets to ‘read’ a book even before learning how to read, by following these cues and correlating them with the audio. To us, enjoyment of the story is top priority. However, this also happens to be the most effective way to acquire a new language, and it was this realization that led to the founding of Karadi Path, where Karadi Tales books are used as an efficient and fun way to learn English,” tells Shobha.

Promotion of digital books…

“For audio books, we use social media marketing tools to promote either specific titles or special offers. On third party platforms, we sometimes run discounts or offers on the catalogue for limited periods of time. Many of our audio books have gone into reprint multiple times in early years with close to no marketing, as they were selling purely through word of mouth. We believe that if the high quality of the product is the focus, the audiences will follow – there is always a demand for good stories,” tells Shobha.

The future of ebooks…

“We are still at the launch phase of our ebook offerings, so at this point, we are predominantly a print and audio book company – this might change in the years to come, with proliferation of more reading and listening devices,” tells Shobha. “As use of smart phones, reading devices, and apps skyrockets, we will see a proportionate increase in consumer demand for books in these formats. However, this will also be accompanied by some resistance on account of parents and teachers negotiating use of screen time for kids, so as to strike a balance between learning something new and the pitfalls of device addiction. Once these boundaries have been established, perhaps in the next few years, it is likely that devices could become at least as important a vehicle as print books in the children’s literature segment. While ebooks require this tightrope walk, we believe that no reader is too young for an audio book, for auditory learning is hugely important for brain development even for infants,” concludes Shobha.

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