Tara Books is an independent publishing house started in 1994 by Gita Wolf. Over the years, she was joined by other creative friends who have helped Tara grow organically and in many directions.
Since 2012, our home has been the Book Building in Chennai, South India. Apart from our office, it houses a bookstore, a gallery, and a residential space for visiting artists, authors and designers.
We are a collective of writers, designers and book artisans who favour a non-hierarchical mode of functioning, informed by feminism and other movements for social justice. Our team at the office is currently 18 people.
We’d like to enhance the quirky pleasures of reading text and pictures, and value experimentation in content, design and production. We believe that the form of the book can and should keep evolving.
In addition to the office team, 25 artisans presently work at our bookmaking workshop. We’re particularly well-known for our screenprinted books made entirely by hand—from the paper to the printing and binding.
Design is an integral part of our books. To us, design is not decoration or embellishment, but basic to how a book creates meaning. In some cases, the role of the designer is that of an author.
An integral part of our publishing is a pioneering engagement with the rich diversity of Indian folk and tribal art. Over a period of 20 years, we have brought a range of such artists into the book form for the first time.
We specialise in the visual arts, but many of the books we publish defy strict genre classification – our titles range from children’s picture books, through graphic novels, to photography and book art.
We create most of our titles in-house, and often collaborate with a range of writers, artists and designers from lndia and elsewhere. These fruitful partnerships can and do take on different forms.
We like to bring aesthetics and politics together in our projects – not merely in the sense of making a well-designed political manifesto or picture books that make a didactic point.
Much of folk and tribal art is said to have originated from women’s everyday art practices. As feminists we are interested in exploring both traditional women’s art and contemporary renderings of women’s creativity.
Many of our books evolve through long and intense dialogue. These collaborations include workshops that we regularly hold, which often lead to projects that stretch beyond the book.
We publish primarily in English and Tamil. We would also like to publish more extensively in Hindi and are currently growing a German list. Other publishers have also published our titles in over 20 other languages.
Apart from individual books, Tara has also won prestigious awards including the London Book Fair International Publishing Industry Excellence Award, 2014 and the Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publisher (Asia Region), 2013.
Looking to expand creative ways of extending the book form and exploring the themes in our books, we have a growing list of films and videos, activity sheets for educators, interviews with authors, and themed exhibitions.
We created a trust to support our research and activities, which go beyond the scope of book projects, and include the arts, child rights, gender, environment, and language learning.
Our unique approach to evolving books has led to unusual collaborations with museums, publishing houses and other cultural institutions through events, exhibitions and workshops.
We regularly curate exhibitions that relate to and extend the themes that our books explore. We see these exhibitions as an important part of the larger cultural work that frames our publishing.
We have attended the Bologna and Frankfurt Book Fairs every year for over 20 years, and have sold the foreign language rights to nearly 60 % of our titles to around 120 publishing houses from around the world.
Our books are available online through this website, and also through good bookstores in India and abroad. Our books and stationery are presently distributed in the US, UK, Europe, South East Asia and Australia.
Over the years, book lovers and reviewers from around the world have talked about Tara as a unique and remarkable publishing venture. We’ve put this media together in an archive, along with our press releases.
We’ve collected an astonishing variety of images that we offer as art prints, cards and stationery. Given our skills and resources, they are a way to provide an extra source of income for us, our artists and artisans.
We offer events such as talks, workshops and presentations by the Tara team and other professional friends at Book Building as well as at select festivals and venues around the world.
Want to get in touch or come by and visit us? Find the right person to contact about something in particular – sales, queries, submissions, work opportunities etc – or simply just drop us a line to say hello.