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Bid to revive brand — IBH plans animated tele serial on Amar Chitra Katha content

Purvita Chatterjee

IBH has now decided to approach animation software companies in the Philippines and Malaysia to source the content for its new television serials.

Mumbai , Sept. 22

GIVING a new lease of life to the 35-year-old Amar Chitra Katha series of comic books, IBH (India Book House) is exploring the idea of launching a television series on the same.

Speaking to Business Line, Ms Padmini Mirchandani, Executive Director & Publisher, IBH, said, "We are exploring new formats for the Amar Chitra Katha series and have approached a couple of children's television channels to air the series in its animated format. Besides, we are also exploring other formats such as DVDs and mobile gaming to re-launch the Amar Chitra Katha brand.''

In 1996, the Amar Chitra Katha brand had been extended into the video format and was also running as a weekly television show on the Indian and foreign cable network channels, but was subsequently discontinued.

Considering the steep production costs of making an animated series in India, IBH has now decided to approach animation software companies in the Philippines and Malaysia to source the content for its new television serials. Once the content has been developed, IBH would be charging royalty fees on the usage of the Amar Chitra Katha brand on whichever format it lends itself to.

Besides, its newly launched Web site (amarchitrakatha.com) should also help in reviving the brand. Claims Ms Mirchandani, "In spite of high awareness levels for Amar Chitra Katha, it has not been doing as well as we would like it to. The new online site will be interactive with quizzes and downloads giving children a chance to experience the Indian culture, heritage and traditions.''

Its Web site will also facilitate buying the bound copies of the series.

The re-launch of the Amar Chitra Katha series, which has famous titles from Indian history such as Krishna, Nala Damayanti, Kacha Devyani and Meera, also coincides with the birthday of its creator, Mr Anant Pai, who turned 75 recently and was felicitated at a function in Mumbai.

IBH also launched its literary support programme during the same function to support education in schools through its comics and books.

IBH has already approached schools and embarked upon a programme with the primary level libraries in these institutions. These mainly comprise Government-aided schools such as the Kendriya Vidyalayas.

Apart from reviving the Amar Chitra Katha series, IBH is also considering bringing in the Classic Illustrated Junior series of comics it once had in the Indian market with world famous titles such as Silas Marner and Alice in Wonderland. "We are still working on the pricing for the Classic series and are considering reprinting the series once again,'' said Ms Mirchandani.

With the boom in bookstore retailing, the publishing industry has benefited as well. Explains Ms Mirchandani, "While the retailers do command higher margins, there is an increase in volumes which helps us in absorbing these margins.''

Besides comic book series such as Amar Chitra Katha, which began at a pricing of just Rs 1.25, now carry a price tag of Rs 30.

Registering a turnover of Rs 85 crore, IBH's core trade remains its distribution business apart from publishing Tinkle, a children's monthly magazine and Amar Chitra Katha.

Marketing over 140 titles in different categories, including magazines such as Business India, PC Quest, Outlook and OverDrive, it covers nearly 2,000 outlets directly.

IBH also distributes high margin international magazines such as National Geographic, Asian Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and Far Eastern Review.

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