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Jai SaxenaKids market is not a dated market, as nothing is outdated and that’s the beauty of this business and publishing in itself is an interesting activity,” told Jai Saxena, director-Strategy & Business Development, BPI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