Prime Edition

Books get talking with Reado
SHWETA SHARMA  25th Mar 2012

Illustration by Namrata Bhatter | Dev Kabir Malik Design

n the early '90s, audio books were primarily designed for the visually challenged. But thanks to MP3s, mobile phones and downloadable files, which are part of our lives and lifestyles, the medium has a wider audience now. Tapping in on this growing market of avid audio book listeners, Sumit Suneja and Kunal Pancholi recently launched Reado, India's first audio books company.

"Reado offers a wide range of genres for all age groups, including fiction for children and adults, self-help, management and business books. Our target audience is anyone who enjoys reading but for some reason is unable to do so, whatever might be the reason. However, we are looking at increasing the number of audio books for children as we see a sizable demand in the market," says Aneesha Ranjan, head of production, Reado.

Including titles like The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi, Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana Mallanaga, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Connan Doyle and God Save the Dork by Sidin Vadukut, Reado foresees a triple figure growth for the industry and a 100% growth in the year 2013-2014.

"We ensure that the feel of the book is not lost while being converted into an audio book and therefore a lot of planning and pre-production research is done. We work with voice over artists like Rashid Raza, Anil Mani, Ramneeka Lobo and Sunit Tandon. For our fiction titles, we work with professional actors and sound designers. The recordings go through a stringent quality check to ensure that at no point does the narrative overpower the story or vice-versa," says Ranjan.

Including titles like The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi, Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana Mallanaga, Reado foresees a triple figure growth for the audio book industry in 2013-14.

Currently available in MP3 format, book lovers can purchase the DVD version through reado and at stores like Crossword and Landmark. In the future, the books shall also be available as direct digital downloads, compatible with all android, iOS and other devices that support MP3 audio.

But can 'listening' really be accepted as the new 'reading'? "No," says Thomas Abraham, MD, Hachette Books. "Or at least trends we've seen over the past seven years don't indicate this. It's niche, it's different and has a very different demographics and is meant for that reader to whom reading doesn't come naturally — they find listening easier. For all of these, it can even be an enhanced experience like a radio-play," he adds.

Concurs Ankit Nagori, vice president, Flipkart, who feels that this niche market suits the needs of the urban class who has little time on their hands. "The sales of the product in its current format (CD) are moderate, as CD's are themselves dying mediums. But once it goes digital, it will definitely pick up. Audio books are generally preferred more for self-help genres and short stories as it doesn't have continuity like fiction and can be wrapped up faster," he tells Guardian20.

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