This is part 1 in a series profiling SoundCloud users using Creative Commons licenses. To see the whole series, click here.
Those of us who grew up with access to children’s books know how important they are, but millions of children in India have been raised without well-made books in their language. Pratham Books was founded over 15 years ago to address this problem, and in the years since have published hundreds of high-quality children’s books in different Indian languages. In 2008, they started releasing books under Creative Commons licenses, and earlier this year collaborated to release audiobook versions of some of their titles, also using Creative Commons. We caught up with Gautam John from Pratham Books to talk about how SoundCloud has helped them distribute their audiobooks online.
Hello Gautam! Can you describe the goals of Pratham Books, and the kind of audio you’re producing? What is the background behind that?
We didn’t set out to produce audio books – we set out with a mission to put a book in every child’s hand. That said, we have always wanted to be as inclusive as is possible but as a small non-profit, we do function under severe constraints of time, money and bandwidth. I’ll let my colleague Maya explain how it came to pass:
When we tweeted about the voice volunteers of the Rotary Helen Keller Talking Book Library, our friends @owos mentioned that Radio Mirchi had done something similar. A quick Google search ensued and with an email address at hand, a mail was sent out to the Radio Mirchi team. A few days later, we managed to speak to Pallavi from the Radio Mirchi team. The aim was to ask about their CSR initiative of recording books for the National Association of the Blind and write a blog post about it. During the course of the conversation, we got talking about Pratham Books. And thanks to some of our Creative Commons licensed books, our books were readily available for them to record.
Where would these audio books go? To the National Association of the Blind.
Recently we received some of the audio books recorded by Radio Mirchi and we were delighted to hear the results. Crowding around a laptop, we listened to the recording with a child-like eagerness. The recordings were so good that everyone in the room was smiling and clapping by the end of the story. The Radio Mirchi team has done a fantastic job and we are sure that the children who hear these stories will have smiles as big as the ones on our faces.”
That comes from a blog post we’ve written that has more reading.
These audio books and more are also available over at Inclusive Planet, a online platform for the print impaired to connect over accessible books, ideas and conversations.
What are some of the difficulties in producing a project that spans so many languages?
For us, we face challenges of translation and all the other associated problems of proof reading. However, the production of the audio books was done with Radio Mirchi – we have them to thank for this.
How did you start releasing material with a Creative Commons license? How have the licenses been beneficial to your organization’s aims?
The Creative Commons licensing model is one that helps us achieve many of our aims of flexibility and scalability in helping catalyse our mission of a book in every child’s hands. In particular, three things stand out – a shared value system of sharing and openness, a community that was deeply embedded in these ideals and, from our perspective, it is massively scalable as well.
Is there any book on SoundCloud that you’re most proud of, or has an interesting story behind it’s creation?
Yes! In particular, Moon and the Cap. Barkha Deva, who follows us on Twitter and is an avid supporter of our work shared her experience on Twitter and then volunteered to and did record this one along with Radio Mirchi.
Moon and the Cap- English by prathambooks
How has Soundcloud helped you? Do you find yourself engaging with the community, and are you able to use your Soundcloud page as a showcase for your material?
Oh it’s been fantastic! Without Soundcloud we had no real way of sharing this wonderful work with a wider audience in an easy and elegant manner – Soundcloud has made it possible for us to showcase this jointly created work in a way we would never have been able to do and also to engage with the Soundcloud community too. Thank you Soundcloud!
Thank you to Gautam for taking the time out from his busy schedule to share these insights on using SoundCloud for audiobooks and Creative Commons licensed content. Stay tuned over the next few days for more interviews with CC users on SoundCloud!