Preeti Vyas on Giving Amar Chitra Katha’s Timeless Tales a New Life and Much More | Exclusive

Preeti Vyas took over as CEO and president of Amar Chitra Katha in 2019, which published Amar Chitra Katha comics, Tinkle, and National Geographic Traveller India. Preeti Vyas has emerged as a visionary figure in the dynamic field of storytelling, where conventional narratives and contemporary platforms clash leading one of India’s most renowned publishing firms, Amar Chitra Katha. Preeti Vyas, the CEO and president of Amar Chitra Katha Pvt. Ltd., has contributed her distinctive inventiveness, creativity, and commercial savvy to rethink how stories are conveyed and consumed in the digital era in addition to preserving India’s cultural history.

Preeti discusses her rise to the top of the prestigious publication, her ambitions for the future, her challenges in addressing the nostalgic overtones of the book, meeting expectations, adjusting to the digital age, and much more in this exclusive interview with

Excerpts from the interview:

Can you briefly describe your path leading up to your current position as President and CEO of Amar Chitra Katha? Which abilities and experiences have best prepared you for this position?

I have an experience of roughly 29 years, where I have been extensively working in the space of content, specifically in the area of children’s content. So, at various points of time in my life, I have been a publisher, an author, an editor, a marketer, a retailer etc. I also ran my own bookstore. So, I have got a lot of experience in the children’s content space. I think all those roads led me up to this position. Just before I joined here, my last role was – I ran my own children’s publishing company called FunOKPlease. It was contemporary Indian content for children. I’ve also written multiple books which were published by FunOKPlease. So, I’ve done like everything to do with 360 degrees of a book’s journey in life.

Amar Chitra Katha has a long tradition of using comics to teach readers about Indian mythology, history, and culture. What plans do you have for the future of ACK, and what measures are you taking to ensure that this cultural legacy remains interesting and relevant for future generations?

Yes, we are a nostalgia brand. We have a 56-year-old company and we have like two generations of Indians who have grown up on ACK comics. But, we don’t want to be a nostalgia brand because with a nostalgia brand, you’re targeting people who are in their 40s and 50s and in 10 years time, the story is over. What’s critical for us is actually that we should be able to connect with today’s generation of children, today’s generation of readers and they should love ACK comics as much as their parents or grandparents did. That’s the challenge in front of us. So, there are three things that are important to us-

  1. One is that whatever content has already been created in the past by our founder, Mr. Anand Pai, who was known as Uncle Pai. So, all that treasure sort of that we have inherited, how to keep that alive, how to keep that active, you know, how to make sure that’s still being made available everywhere across formats, whether it’s print, it’s digital, it’s animation, it should be made available in all possible formats in all possible markets.
  2. The second part of the challenge is how do you create new content? So, how do you keep creating, keep telling new stories, keep producing new content on themes which resonate with today’s children, using narrative styles, using art styles which will appeal to them and to take the legacy forward in many ways.
  3. And the third part is, like I said, to have a transmedia approach. So, whatever format people want to consume stories, we should make them available. So, these three measures.

In recent years, the publishing sector has seen a tremendous digital shift. How is Amar Chitra Katha utilising modern media and technology to expand its audience while preserving its traditional roots?

One of the mainstays of our strategy today is digital. Last year was the first year where our revenues from non-print channels actually overshot the revenues from the print channel. It’s a big achievement for an old company like ours. So, we have our own apps. We have an Amar Chitra Katha app and a Tinkle app on which we have close to 3 million subscribers from all over the world. It’s not just India, but from all over the world. And, these are paid applications. Our entire library is available on it, and that’s given us a huge leap forward into connecting digitally. It’s also very cost-effective because if you’re buying a single book, you’re spending 100 rupees, but you’re in like 2000 rupees, you’re getting to access the entire catalog. It’s amazing that it’s not just on the phone, but, our readers are reading our comics either on a laptop or an iPad or a tablet, sometimes even casting it on a TV screen.  I think that this strong digital push is going to ensure, that we remain connected, we remain relevant, we are part of all digital, initiatives and conversations which are happening in the country and in the world.

Connections between readers and ACK are frequently influenced by nostalgia. How can you use this feeling to your advantage while still appealing to younger generations who might not feel the same sense of nostalgia?

We are a product category where the consumer is a child, but the customer is an adult. The parent is buying the book, but the child is consuming it. So that’s where this whole idea of nostalgia comes in, because today I’m a parent myself. In the case of a comic book, when I see ACK, I have already got the parent’s trust. The credibility factor is so high that a parent will be happy to pick it up. Then comes the challenge when parent will give the book to the child. Now the child has to also enjoy it. You can’t force a child to read. They might read the first 10 pages because the parent has bought the book. But if you want the child to read the next book and the next, then the content also has to be compelling. So nostalgia opens up the door for us. It gives us a foot into the home because the parent is happy to bring that product, bring that book home to their child. And then from there, the new content takes over in appealing to the child’s sensibility and interest. The logo itself is so recognizable. The sun, everybody knows that logo. You close your eyes and you know what the logo looks like.

The publishing industry is constantly changing. What upcoming projects, initiatives, or tactics has Amar Chitra Katha planned to keep on top of this fast-moving market?

We are a publishing house, content creation company and so we have new content coming out all the time. The Tinkle we just released two months back, was the 800th issue. Very few children’s magazines in the country or maybe in the world, have an uninterrupted run of 800 issues. It’s a monthly, so it takes about eight years for a new hundred number to be reached. I would just love to urge anybody who’s reading your article on who’s connected, who’s a lover of ACK, that please go and read our new titles, go and see the new content that we’re doing. It’s not just the old, you might be having the whole collection given to you by your father, grandfather, grandmother, whoever gave it to you, but update your library because we have so much of content.

In addition to that, a lot of new platforms. So we are launching an ARBR library as well. So ARBR audio books, animation, all of these things are happening. We have a beautiful imprint called ACK Junior, which is for the three to six age group. So we have a whole new library under that, which we are launching called the Tot Box- Treasure of Tales. So it’s for younger children and it’s like a treasure box full of books, posters, games, puppets, instruments and all kinds of things, which will be which will be targeted at preschools and kindergartens. So that’s another new product, which is just about to be launched next month.



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