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Radio City forays into kids audio book segment
MUMBAI: Radio City has partnered with BPI India, publisher of children's books, to foray into the audio book segment with the launch of 'City of Tales'.

Commenting on the new initiative, Radio City CEO Apurva Purohit says, "Radio City's extension in this segment only seemed logical as our association with the art of entertainment through audio is over a decade old. With audio books, our goal is to entertain and engage children through the old storytelling method, but in a new medium. Indian stories have always passed from generation to generation in the audio format. These books are yet another devise to impart Indian folklore to the next generation."

The first two releases of 'City of Tales' are Folk Tales and Animal Wisdom. Each title comprises of five stories and each story is about 8-10 minutes. The titles are available in Hindi and English.

BPI India MD Sunil Patki says, "Our creative, exciting and educational product basket is a mix of licensed and indigenous products. Associating with leading brands, to generate products acceptable to the market, has been one of the key strategies at BPI. This partnership gives BPI India its first set of audio products."


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<img style="float:left; margin: 0px 10px 0px 0px;" src="" />Another player has entered the fledgling audio books category in the country. In a new business initiative, FM channel Radio City 91.1 FM has launched the City of Tales brand of audio books.

The other notable player in this segment is the Chennai-based Karadi Tales, part of ACK Media which owns the Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle brands of books and comics based largely on Indian culture.

Speaking to Business Line, Ms Apurva Purohit, Chief Executive Officer, Radio City 91.1 FM, said the move would fill a gap: Children's books available now cater mostly to those aged eight and above. Parents of younger children aged two years and above, to whom stories are usually told, have to rely on their memory.

The audio books would serve as a repository of stories drawn from India's myriad cultural sources, such as folk tales and animal tales. The books are designed, scripted and recorded in-house, using the radio station's own resources, in terms of narrators, voice-over artists and studio facilities. The books are being produced in collaboration with publisher BPI India.

Radio City has launched two titles to begin with – Animal Wisdom and Folk Tales.

The audio books are priced Rs 350 and come with a CD containing five stories each, an activity book based on the stories and a set of sketch pens.

They have been launched in English and Hindi. Now available in Mumbai and Delhi, they will be available in the top 20 cities by the end of the month.

They are available in stores such as Landmark, Crossword and Odyssey, besides other bookstores, e-commerce sites and through tie-ups with schools.

Based on the response, they will be produced in other languages as well. The stories run for 6-8 minutes.

A growing segment

In the US, the audio books segment is a $1billion (about Rs 4,500 crore) business, Ms Purohit said.

In India, the non-textbook publishing business is estimated at Rs 2,000 crore and audio books are estimated to account for just 1-2 per cent of this, according to her. She added that audio books is a growing segment in the country.

The world over, increasingly busier lives and the consequent time crunch has people seeking entertainment on the move – a need that has served to expand the market for gadgets such as the Kindle, and in India, for FM stations (mobile phones account for 18 per cent of listenership).

Distance- and e-learning are also creating interest in the audio format and quite a few educational books are being produced so, she said.

Ms Purohit said that with this diversification, Radio City, which has been in the business for nearly a decade and is present in 20 markets, has reached out to children, a segment it has not tapped earlier.

“We are looking at businesses that exploit the core potential of our company. We are working on other digital modes of providing our content to people,” she said.

Radio City's other initiatives so far include a subscription-based broadcast service to listeners in New Jersey, US, which has a large number of non-resident Indians; RC Connect, a business in below-the-line advertising for its on-air clients and, which Ms Purohit describes as a social networking site centred on music.

“This year, 10-15 per cent of our revenue will come from these areas,” she added.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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