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  • She Says

Gita Wolf’s Publishing House Creates Books For Kids With Traditional Art

  • JWB Post
  •  July 17, 2015

‘Once upon a time…’ ‘…and they lived happily ever after!’ Most of our childhood was spent reading all that happened between these two expressions.

Children’s books! Yes. A delight for the kids and a gainful endeavor for the publishers, the industry has never been more attractive! So today, we speak of one of India’s most interesting publishers; who is doing the extraordinaire!

Gita Wolf, founder of the popular Chennai-based publishing label, Tara Books, is selling the Japanese back to the Japanese. She is excited about the five publishers from across the world: Japan, Italy, Korea, Portugal, and India that will publish a fold-out book called Knock Knock, originated by her team, and created by a Japanese illustrator.

Her publishing house, Tara books is a worker-owned collective, which distributes its own books and has its own production unit. Its signature books brim with traditional art and craftsmanship in the form of textile books, block printed books, illustration books etc. Although the market for such books is tough, she has managed to make a niche and trademark for her firm, and today, has an impressive number of readers.

“We started from the creative side of things, not really from the business side, in 1994. A couple of friends at Cholamandal [an artists’ village in Chennai] got together to create the kinds of books that we would like. We started in a very small way with just a couple of titles. Over a period of time, some friends have joined me, and it’s a worker- owned collective; the people who own it are running the place. From a business point of view, we have worked intuitively. The growth has always been organic,” explains Gita in an interview.

Her firm is one of a kind as it is the only book-business to employ a team of full-time artisans. Currently, she has 22 artisans and 11 members in the office including the editorial and other staff.

The Nightlife of Trees, a Tara Books creation, containing silk-screened illustrations by Gond artists: Durga Baj, Bhaijju Shyam and Ram Singh Urveti, was sent to a Japanese publisher. Gita recalls, “He was very worried: ‘When will it come, will it have bugs?’ He published Nightlife in Japan using his own money. It’s such a success that it’s gone into reprints—67,000. When other publishers saw how successful the book has been, we got more orders. You need someone to have that vision, everyone else kind of follows!”

Having authored over a dozen books for children and adults, Gita has also won various accolades, the Alcuin Citation in Canada in 1997, and 1999 Biennale of Illustrations Bratislava plaque, being two of them!

What started as a need for well written children’s books turned Gita into a renowned name in the publishing industry, and her creativity into beautiful paperbacks!

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