Friday, June 24, 2011

Bilingual Books in SoBo

Sangeeta Bhansali, director of Vakils, Feffer & Simons Pvt. Ltd. in Mumbai sent us the following email recently (on 17 June), and we’d like to share the email with you (mildly edited):

Kahani Tree is a division of Vakils, Feffer and Simons Ltd. that promotes children's books and is dedicated to inspire a life-long love of reading in children. It supports independent publishers of children's books from all over India.

Audiobooks and picture books from Karadi Tales are available at Kitab Khana (Flora Fountain). On Sunday 29 May, a children's event was organized by Kitab Khana on trees, as part of World Environment Week. About 15 children were present, ages ranging from 2 to 7 years. We had a reading session combined with a craft activity.

Prior to the event, I provided Kitab Khana with a list of books on the environment and volunteered to help by talking to the parents while their children were involved with the activities. Since I am familiar with the content of most of these books, I figured I would be able to support the sales staff of Kitab Khana during the event.

The Karadi Tales bilingual Chitra series was prominently displayed on a table, separate from the bookshelves because they were attractive and directly relevant to the topic. The 4 titles – The Tiny Seed, The Grouchy Ladybug, The Mixed-Up Chameleon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar written and illustrated by Eric Carle – sold out in minutes… and not in singles, but in sets, sometimes 2 or 3 together. Eric Carle was obviously well known to the customers of KK and the quality of books was impressive. The bilingual aspect with the English / Hindi combination was also appreciated.

The huge problem, though, was that Kitab Khana had ordered only 3 copies of each title. And in events like this, word spreads like wildfire. Some parents were even buying the books for their children who were probably too young simply because they had not seen books of this kind before! I heard comments like: ‘Who knows when we'll see this again, it's so rare to find good unusual books!’ and ‘I cant stop myself from buying good books for the children, when I see them, even though I have a space constraint.’ and ‘What a unique concept... Hindi and English with Eric Carle's wonderful illustrations!’

And before we knew it, the books were all gone and we were hugely disappointed that we could not meet the demand. I sent Kitab Khana 5 copies each on Monday 30 May, just in case some of the parents did return! 

Another experience was at the Cathedral School Hindi Book Fair held on 19 and 20 April. Around 450 parents attended the book fair. Bilingual books were a huge hit! Twenty copies each of all these books sold out on the first day! A lot of Hindi and bilingual audiobooks were also sold, especially as gifts for overseas family / friends, just before the start of the summer vacation.

In my opinion, South Mumbai is certainly hungry for Karadi Tales and wants to see more!

Thanks, Sangeetha!