To make stories more affordable, Katha is all set to launch e-books

Using the technology plank, Katha, an organisation that has worked in the space of storytelling for the past 25 years, is about to take the first step towards making its entire collection available and affordable in the electronic format.

To begin with, Katha will launch 30 e-books at the New Delhi World Book Fair this week in collaboration with Impelsys that may not be entirely free of cost but charge a minimal amount.

“There are 330 million children in the age group of zero to 17 in our country; more than 60 per cent of our country is young and more than 80 per cent is poor. These are huge numbers we are dealing with and if you ask me what is my ultimate aim, then it is to enable every child to read and make all the material available free of cost in open source format,” says Geeta Dharmarajan, Founder and executive director of Katha.

Making use of advanced technology – cloud, internet, computer and mobile – the non-profit organisation plans to make books accessible at lower costs. It takes close to Rs one lakh to produce a book in print for children keeping in mind the aesthetic values, design specifications and art experiences, but producing an e-book will help lower these costs, while providing the same experience, says Geeta.

Katha is essentially looking at releasing the books on pdf, epub3 and mobi formats to make them available on the phone, on kindle and make them disabled-friendly for the partially sighted.

“India is a very vibrant country where the people, the land and the culture changes every 200 meters. We want our children to be actively aware of that, not passively and to appreciate the vibrancy,” says Rizio Yohannan Raj, Managing Editor at Katha.

“Our books are like collectibles, carefully designed and each may take from three months to three years to complete,” says Sakshi Jain, Art Director. The team at Katha is fairly young and kept alive under the lively guidance of Geeta.

Katha runs 98 schools in slum communities in Delhi and reaches out to 200,000 children through a reading Programme. It recently signed an agreement with the government to work in 500 MCD schools during the next five years. CBSE has recommended 64 books (24 English, 40 Hindi) by Katha and NCERT has recommended 14 books to be included in the curriculum in schools.

Translations are another important aspect for Katha and of the 20-30 books published each year many are translated into English and Hindi from regional languages. By June-July this year, Katha plans to publish books in two regional languages also.

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