Mamta Garg and her dedication to children’s books

Mamta Garg, director, design and development, Brijbasi Art Press, and winner, R&D Captain of the Year, shares the highs and lows of being a publisher of children’s books

15 May 2024 | By PrintWeek Team

Mamta Garg, Brijbasi Art Press

Brijbasi has renewed interest in printed books. How did this journey start?
Brijbasi has been exporting children's books for the last 25 years. We noticed a demand for fresh content in the international market and decided to meet that need. Around the same time, we conceptualised Hello Friend Books. Given our background in the printing business, venturing into book publishing for children was a logical next step. Our aim was to produce books that could stand alongside those from international publishers. The journey since then has been both long and fulfilling.

You have launched a variety of books. Which is your personal favourite?
Choosing a favourite book is tough. Recently, we worked on a range of books on emotions, tailored to various age groups with age-appropriate content. We developed an interactive theatre where scenes are scripted. Children could choose any character and perform according to the given scene. This creative approach allowed both children and adults to explore and address a variety of emotions. This is currently my favourite project.

What was the most challenging project according to you?
Our series on children's mental health, focusing on emotions, was a challenging project. The format had to be engaging for kids, so we created a variety of books, including word books, story books, theatre plays, slide books, and touch-and-feel books. It is important for us to not only raise awareness but also make the books fascinating for children, ensuring they are eager to read them. The content had to be age appropriate. This topic is particularly close to my heart because I see many children going through mental health issues and need help with it.

Exporting to more than hundred nation states is huge. How do you stay updated and compliant with constantly evolving rules and regulations which govern the export of printed books?
Our facilities are fully up-to-date, and we comply with all EU regulations. We are committed to the social welfare of our employees and their families. We continuously update our systems to ensure environmental sustainability. In this ever-changing world, we strive to stay one step ahead. Because our products are designed for children, we prioritise creating a fully safe product.

How do you ensure your vast and varied books meet the required standards in different types of readers? Is it horses for courses?
Keeping up with changing trends is crucial for us. Our sales team travels globally to attend international book fairs and maintains constant contact with our clients and customers. This not only keeps us up-to-date but also enables us to introduce new formats and improve our content year after year. Tailoring to specific needs is key. Each publisher we partner with for co-editions has unique specifications that we follow closely. It is fascinating to see how every publisher from different countries has specific requirements tailored to their market.

What is the first thing you do when you get a sample of a new book ready?
It is always exciting to get the first sample of the book, even after all these years. The first thing I do when I receive the first sample of a book is to check if the cover is appealing for kids to want to buy it. 

The cover is crucial in making the book stand out among the many others in a bookstore, as a child will often choose a book based on how beautiful or colourful the cover is. I check whether the content inside and the finish of the book are perfect.

In addition to design, what role do special-natural and coated papers play in high-end publishing projects? What is your process of selecting paper?
Ensuring that our paper meets EUTR and FSC regulations is our primary concern, reflecting our commitment to environmental responsibility. This is an important part of our operations. Following that, we cater to the unique needs of our clients, selecting paper types appropriate for various book genres. We typically utilise uncoated paper for our colouring and activity books, and opt for coated paper in the production of storybooks.

Many SME firms in our industry prefer to outsource their R&D or have a consultant. What is the Brijbasi method?
We attempted this approach in the past, but it proved to be unsuccessful. One of the main reasons was the lack of international exposure for the artists and the designers. Our books are designed for international markets, where design sensibilities can be diverse and distinct. Now, my team is fully attuned to these requirements, making it much easier to work in-house.

You also do charity work which focuses on increasing children’s literacy. What can the print and paper industry do on this front?
There are many NGOs (working for educating the less privileged kids) that often struggle with limited resources. If each of us takes the responsibility to support even one of these NGOs, either through financial assistance or by donating books, it would make a significant difference. Many children lack access to reading material because it is not affordable. By helping to set up libraries that can be used by kids, we can make a positive impact. Any form of help is greatly appreciated by these organisations. Book donation drives can be organised too.

What sort of marketing does Brijbasi do in order to ensure you have superior collaboration?
One of the most effective marketing strategies for us is to visit and participate in book fairs worldwide. We exhibit in over 15 book fairs globally. Additionally, our strong relationships with our clients is a crucial marketing asset. These relationships enhance our reputation, and lead to further recommendations, expanding our network and reach in the industry.

Creating books in a tight timeframe is taxing. What sort of SOPs do you follow to ensure that the technical specifications work in tandem with the illustrators, designers, and binders?
Our mock-up team operates like a mini printing press. They ensure that all ideas are feasible within the constraints of costs and specifications. We hold a meeting every morning to set targets and goals. The first step in the process is book design — which includes writing the text, selecting artwork, and choosing a colouring style. Once the book design is complete, dummies are created for approval. All department heads collaborate closely to ensure that the project is completed on time.

How did you and your team celebrate when you heard the news that you had won an award at WTW 2024?
Celebrations are on hold because my entire team is currently busy preparing for the Bologna Book Fair. We will celebrate once the fair has concluded.