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Updated: June 22, 2011 19:38 IST

Books will be books

NISA ASKARI
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Vineet Sharma of Parragon Publishing India. Photo: Special Arrangement
The Hindu Vineet Sharma of Parragon Publishing India. Photo: Special Arrangement

Parragon now turns its attention to tier-II and tier-III cities and towns

In a world where every activity has an ‘e' prefixed to it, how much charm do good old books hold, especially for children and youngsters?

“No doubt the Internet and television provide the visuals, but books have a touch-and-feel factor attached which no other medium has,” says Vineet Sharma, Managing Director, Parragon Publishing India, publisher of illustrated non-fiction books. The company has just completed five years in India. While the largest footprint of the company is in children's books, there is a vivid range available for adults as well, covering a range of topics like cookery, fashion and lifestyle, gardening, travel, art, science and space and many more.

After getting a stronghold in metros, Parragon is all set to target tier-II and tier-III cities. On the basic strategy to harness the readership there, Sharma explains, “Our prices are very nominal — Rs. 95 to 295 — with a majority of the titles under INR 200. In addition, there is further slash in the rates and at the start we have a new range available from Rs.39 onwards (for children's activity books).”

Parragon, incepted in India in 2006, in its initial years utilised non-conventional channels of distribution by making books available at retail outlets, music and gift stores and supermarkets, besides adhering to the conventional modes of distribution. This helped the company expand its base and it will continue to experiment on distribution links in the future too. “The purchasing power of Indian consumers is increasing and they are eager to spend on quality books, but the distribution medium creates a bottleneck for the flow of books between publishers and buyers. If this can be removed, the book buying trend will experience an upsurge. The same can be applied for tier-II and tier-III cities as well.”

On venturing into fiction after being in a prominent player in non-fiction books, Sharma says, “We have started with children's fiction. Will Solvit is the character. The series will have full colour reference sections and a unique decoder to unlock the hidden pictures.” It will also contain facts about the period in which Will has travelled.

The company does not want to restrict itself to the English language and has launched 400 bilingual titles, mainly in Bengali and Marathi. New ventures include a collaboration with Disney at a global level; Parragon is the leading licensee with all the major Disney titles. “New to our list is the Ben-10 contract with them in India. We want to expand and bring in more titles under our publishing house and are doing brick and mortar work on it. Not just titles, distribution is also a prime focus for us. Currently we have 1,500 outlets across 42 cities, and we want to see this number grow.”

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