Thursday, January 7, 2010

Take home a storyteller...

Have you ever wondered what exactly an audiobook is? With new media and alternative formats of entertainment flooding the market, it is hardly surprising that people often ask us that question. The best answer we can ever give them is that an audiobook is a book that talks. And it really is just that.

Karadi audiobooks for children come in a package that contains a book and an audio CD. The books are illustrated beautifully by some of the world’s best known children’s artists and the stories are written by India’s finest children’s writers. Narrated by well-known thespians, readers and icons, Karadi audiobooks are vibrant and alive with the melodic background score, music and songs by some of India’s most renowned musicians.

In a nutshell, each Karadi audiobook is a storyteller waiting to be taken home with you – stories, music, artwork and narratives all rolled into one.

How it all began is a charming story too. Karadi Tales was begun in 1998 as the brainchild of Shobha Viswanath, C. P. Viswanath and C. P. Narayan to create a space for Indian culture in the child’s mind and provide meaningful entertainment alternatives for kids and families.

In the 90s, audiobooks were not a known concept in India at all. When the Viswanaths returned to India from the US with their young son in 1994, one of the things that Shobha realised was that there were no audiobooks available at local bookstores.

‘In the US, my son Kaushik grew up with a lot of exposure to audiobooks,’ she says, ‘The Disney classics and Ladybird books came in the audio format and he loved them. In fact, this was one of the factors to which I attributed his early reading. When I returned to India, I went around looking for audiobooks with Indian content – and I couldn’t find any! I was surprised, and we wanted to do something to fill this gap.’

Originally begun as Sky Music India Pvt. Ltd. In 1998, the company was conceived as a music publishing house with a focus on classical and folk music and audiobooks for children. But as the audiobook brand grew larger and larger and Karadi became a household name among Indians and non-residents, Sky Music became Karadi Tales, India’s first publisher of audiobooks. ‘Since then, there’s been no looking back!’ laughs Shobha.

What is really interesting is how different these audiobooks are from the audiobooks that can be found in most parts of the world. Audiobooks of the world tend to lack music and readers of audiobooks are known for their straightforward, emotionless narration. But we Indians are so rooted in traditions of music, dance and drama that it is hardly surprising that Karadi audiobooks come alive with a lilting and richly Indian background score and the theatrical and emotive narration of Karadi narrators.

As for the name Karadi Tales… if you play around with the letters a bit, the words anagrammatise to ‘Read As I Talk…’ And that’s really what Karadi audiobooks do!