Problems! Problems! Publishing

ALL OF MY books have been self-published. Until recently, I used a ‘print-on-demand’ website called lulu. The process involved first writing my manuscript and formatting the text and any illustrations on Microsoft’s Word software, using a template (for the size of the book) downloaded from lulu. When I was happy with what I had produced, I was able to upload it to lulu’s website. Then, the fun began. Lulu converted my Word document into a .pdf file and when that was done, I could download the .pdf to proofread and make other checks. Almost always, something was lost in translation: what appeared in the .pdf was far from what I wanted. So, endlessly I had to keep adjusting my Word file and uploading it to see whether the latest version produced what I wanted in the lulu generated .pdf. It was tedious and somewhat nerve-wracking to say the least. Then, last summer, disaster struck.

I had just completed the manuscript for a book about west London and was looking forward to uploading it to lulu. It did not take more than a couple of minutes to discover that lulu was no longer accepting manuscripts in the form of Word files. The requirement was to prepare a correctly formatted .pdf file. I was stumped. I had no idea how to do this and felt despondent because I then believed that I might not be able to publish another paperback myself.

Many months passed. Then, while I was perusing some articles on the lulu website, I discovered that one can format .pdf files using software such as Adobe’s InDesign. I investigated this and found it to be quite costly. However, soon I became aware that there is a cheaper option, Serif’s Affinity Publisher, which I bought and downloaded.

At first, Affinity looked impenetrable but there are many on-line tutorials, which I watched before tackling the software. After a few false starts, I began to get the hang of the programme’s basics. Using the relevant template downloaded from lulu, I then inserted the text from my Word manuscript into the Affinity system. After several days of moving the text about and inserting some illustrations and the page numbering, I produced something that looked acceptable. I converted the Affinity file into a .pdf file using the software’s ‘export’ function. Then, with some trepidation, I uploaded my new Affinity-generated .pdf file on to the lulu site. To my great joy, the proof that lulu produced was exactly as I wanted it. So, the Affinity software has proved to be up to the job.

Having found a method to upload to lulu without the problems caused by lulu’s conversion from Word to .pdf, I moved on to finishing and pricing the book. To my horror, I discovered that lulu has increased its prices dramatically. The book, which I created could not be sold to the public for less than £ X plus at least £3.99 postage, which in my opinion was forbiddingly excessive for a book of the size I had made.

Then, I looked at Amazon, which has a book publishing service. Using a new ISBN, I uploaded my .pdf, and after looking at the proof they generated, I looked into the pricing. To my great delight, they can sell the paperback at 58% of lulu’s price excluding postage, which does not always need to be paid. I have seen a copy of the book produced by Amazon and I am happy with its quality. Amazon have captured me from lulu when it comes to book publishing.




In the UK, we have ‘charity shops’, where (mostly) used goods are sold to make money for charities. In the past, charity shops were good places to find really reasonably priced bargains. This is no longer the case. Those who run charity shops are ‘wising up’. Many of them assess the value of the goods they receive by checking how much similar items are being sold on the internet. This has caused prices in these shops to rise gradually. This is quite sensible for the charities, which would like to raise as much money as possible.

I like visiting charity shops to browse the shelves of second-hand books, which they often contain. One charity shop, which will remain unidentified and is in my home neighbourhood, is managed by a person who must be aiming for very high targets in his shop. The prices of the used items in ‘his’ shop are high. Many of the used books on sale in this particular outlet are often at least half the price of what they would be if they were unused and new. The result is that the same books remain unsold on his shelves for months on end. The manager is hoping that they will raise much for the charity. However, they take up space, and are not making any money for his charity. This is the cost of greedy pricing policy.

Other charity shops within the neighbourhood, even those that specialise in selling books, price far more reasonably than the fellow described above.  If that person, whom I shall not name, is reading this piece, I hope that he will begin to realise that people visit charity shops, not because they are desperate to buy something, but because it is enjoyable discovering a bargain. 

One book, two titles

COVER GUJ a blog

The prices of books varies greatly from one country to another. In India, many books cost far less than their equivalents sold, for example, in Europe. Readers in India buying books that have to be imported from ‘the West’ often face high charges due to delivery from afar. I have tried to address this problem with a couple of books, which I have written. My solution is outlined after the following introduction to one of my books about India:

My wife, who is a fluent Gujarati speaker, was born in Bombay. Her father’s family originated in Gujarat and her mother’s in the former Princely State of Kutch, which became part of the State of Gujarat after India became independent.

Both my wife and I have visited India regularly from our home in the UK, yet neither of us had ever been to Gujarat until early in 2018. We felt that it was high time that we visited the parts of India connected with her heritage. I have published a book that describes that first trip. We did not visit everywhere in Gujarat, but the places we saw, our experiences, and the people we met ranging from autorickshaw drivers to former royalty, and our experiences, are described my book. All of these have made us want to visit the region again and to explore it further.

I have long been fascinated with tiny enclaves. I have visited places such as Andorra, San Marino, Mahe (in Kerala), Pondicherry, and Llivia (a part of Spain surrounded by France). Gujarat contains two such places, the former Portuguese colonies of Daman and Diu, territories surrounded by Gujarat but separated from it by borders. We included them on our journey and discovered that though small in area, they are filled with interest.

Gujarat was the birthplace of many celebrated persons, including Narsinh Mehta (poet), Dayanand Saraswati (philosopher), Shyamji Krishnavarma (Sanskrit scholar and freedom fighter), and politicians such as: Mahatma Gandhi, Dadabhai Naoroji, Vallabhai Patel, Morarji Desai, and Narendra Modi. Yet, undeservedly, it is a part of India less frequented by tourists than many other places in India (e.g. Goa, Kerala, Rajasthan, and the ‘Golden Triangle’). I hope that what you will read in this travelogue will whet your appetite and encourage you to make plans to visit Gujarat.

The idea of my book is to unwrap the attractions of Gujarat to make them better known to those who have not yet visited this region of India.

What I have written above is to introduce you to a book I published in 2018 with the title “TRAVELS THROUGH GUJARAT, DAMAN, and DIU”. This book is available from on-line booksellers such as, Amazon, and When you buy my books from these suppliers, they are produced in Europe or the USA and then shipped to the buyer. If they are bought by people living in India, their prices become very large (in comparison with average Indian book costs) because of additional postal charges. For example, TRAVELS THROUGH GUJARAT, DAMAN, and DIU can cost up to 1500 Indian Rupees (‘INR’) and another book, which I have recently published, “IDEAS, BOMBS, and BULLETS” can cost purchasers in India over 800 INR.

To make my books more affordable in India and priced at a rate closer to comparably sized books in the Indian market, I have re-published the two books mentioned above with an Indian print on demand outfit called The travel book has been revised and I hope improved. I have renamed it “GUJARAT UNWRAPPED”. My book about Indian patriots in early twentieth century London, “IDEAS, BOMBS, and BULLETS” retains its original name.

When ordered through and delivered in India, GUJARAT UNWRAPPED is priced at 296 INR (plus minimal postage) and IDEAS, BOMBS, and BULLETS comes to 395 INR (plus minimal postage).






It is worth nothing that purchasers ordering the books from BUT not having their books delivered in India, face huge postage charges.