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Karadi Tales: Publishing tales for children

Karadi Tales is a Chennai-based children’s publishing house, known for its educational CDs and audio books. The brainchild of a group of musicians and educators passionate about children’s literature, Karadi Tales was launched in 1996.

SupportBiz caught up with Manasi Subramaniam, Commissioning Editor of Karadi Tales.

Tell us about the founders of Karadi Tales…

Karadi Tales was started by Shobha Viswanath, Narayan Parasuram and CP Viswanath.

Shobha is a Masters’ degree holder in English Literature and Special Education. With a rich experience in teaching, she has written over 20 books for children.

Narayan is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay, and also holds a Masters’ degree in Material Science and a Diploma in Sound Engineering. He is an acclaimed musician, and a visiting faculty at the Industrial Development Cell (IDC) at IIT Bombay and the Film and Television Institute of India.

CP Viswanath is the Honorary Academic Director of Isha Vidhya Rural Schools in Tamil Nadu. He has 10+ years of work experience with an engineering company. He is an acclaimed musician too.

How did Karadi Tales come about?

When Shobha and her husband CP Viswanath returned to India after a stint in the US, they realized that their son, an avid listener of audio books there, did not have any to listen to now. They began to realize the gap in children’s literature then, and that was how the idea of starting Karadi Tales came about.

How was the initial investment for starting Karadi Tales arranged for?

Karadi Tales was self-funded by the founders. No external funding was sought.

Tell us about your major milestones…

We executed a project called Dreaming Fingers, with Dutch publishing house Lemniscaat, to create illustrated books for the visually disabled, and have been actively doing so since 2006. Through the Karadi Cultural Alliance Trust, our non-profit organization, we have been making these resources available throughout India.

Another milestone is the international recognition that we have gained in recent years. Karadi Tales products have won world-wide critical acclaim, including from the National Association of Parenting Publications of America (NAPPA), White Ravens (Internationale Jugendbibliothek, Germany), International Board on Books for Young people (iBBY) and the Dr. Toy awards.

What is your revenue model?

It used to be retail, but now it is sales through the digital space through platforms like iPads, Kindle and e-books. We also sell through online retail chains like Flipkart, Infibeam and our own website and that of ACK Media. We are also focusing on international sales by selling rights and licenses to countries all over the world. Institutional sales are another avenue.

What are the major challenges you face?

Most children’s books available in India today are those containing morals or, somehow, educational curriculum-related. It is largely believed that fun for its own sake is to be frowned upon. So, coming up with an innovation and marketing it becomes a challenge.

How do you market your business?

For a long time, Karadi Tales was promoted merely by word-of-mouth. We now focus on book fairs, nationally and internationally, story-telling sessions, book launches, and promotions within stores. We also promote actively on our website and via social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Blogger.

What are your expansion plans?

We have begun to move away from audio books and into picture books. In five years, I hope we would have trail-blazed the picture book industry in this country, just as we did with audio books.

Corporate Website: Karadi Tales