Tuesday, 14 June 2016

"Udta Punjab" - is this justice?

I do not understand the priorities of our courts these days. The CJ weeps that he does not have enough people to handle the number of cases. The Mumbai HC took 13 years to decide who was NOT driving a vehicle, and there is still no justice in sight for the poor pavement dwellers who died sleeping. There are thousands, if not lakhs, of undertrials in jail because the judges have no time to hear such cases. Yet both the judges of the the two-member bench apparently had more than enough time to personally watch the movie for three hours, listen to arguments on each of the points raised and decide on its merits within a few days of the matter coming before them. Such was the critical importance they gave to the matter - the release of a movie.

I am not questioning the decision, only the fact that there has been a decision. And that this issue has got so much of media time. Freedom of expression, or rather of artistic expression, these days is more important that freedom of life.

To me, the justice is skewed. I wish the common man could hope for similar speedy judgements.

Friday, 10 July 2015

My self-published book : Using Createspace for print-on-Demand in several countries

After I made my self-published book available for reading on Kindle through Amazon, I wondered how I could make print copies available across various countries. Not really knowing how many sales would take place, I definitely did not want to spend any money which I would have had to do if I used say, Ingram. I decided on CreateSpace since it is free. Also it is a subsidiary of Amazon, so linkages are easier.

I found that the site tends to be slow but uploading the interior was easy. I had already obtained my own ISBNs ( see my earlier post How I obtained ISBNs as a self-publisher in India.). This ensured that I could always add or move to other companies for my Print-on-Demand requirements.

Since I had already self published my book, the cover was an issue. I definitely did not want to change the cover which I really liked.

Our Heritage Revisited

I did try to upload my own cover directly but found it not worth the effort of calculations of margin, spine thickness etc. I therefore selected their cover designer option which allowed me to upload my own front and back cover images without having to bother about the designing aspects. I did however get stuck on the colour of spine since CreateSpace only give a limited choice. I had to make do with the best match I could find - I was not too happy about that, but all said, I found the experience quite satisfying.

The impossible aspect, for persons like me based in India, is that I do not expect to ever receive any royalty from them  - ever. They ask for me to have a bank account in the US, UK or a few other countries. Else they will pay when, and only when, the earnings cross 100 units in the concerned currency. So my accrued royalty may be Dollars 99 and Pounds 99 and Euros 99, but the amount they will pay me is zilch, zero, That is how the cookie crumbles with them. Incidentally Amazon has a similar process but the saving grace is that there is no threshold requirement for dollars or rupees.

Anyway my book was uploaded, became available at Amazon really quickly and so sales in America started. Here is the link Our Heritage Revisited : A glimpse into ancient Indian texts.

Do let me know about your experiences.

Monday, 29 June 2015

DIY - How I self-published my book on Amazon for Kindle

Having written my book and got it printed, the next step was to make it available on the Net. After exploring various options and I decided on the kindle version as kindle is now a free software on all PCs and mobiles. I am already a member of Amazon and I logged onto Kindle Direct Publishing with the same id. After completing requirements for tax purposes, I went to my bookshelf and added my title. All details were simple and took no time at all.

Since I had already obtained an ISBN for an e-book I entered these details. (Amazon however have still given their own ASIN number). The issues were on uploading the book and deciding on pricing and royalty.

The book cover was already designed, the uploading took a bit of fixing because of the pixel requirements. I converted the .docx file into a pdf file which I then saved as a JPEG file selecting the best quality and the highest pixel count available. The cover was uploaded and accepted.
For the book content, I again saved my .docx file as a pdf file since I wanted to keep my fonts intact - an upload of the docx file changes several English fonts. And I also had several hindi words interspersed throughout the book, which became garbage when uploaded as a .docx file.
As far as royalty was concerned, I did have the option of Amazon's Select offer where they give upto 70% royalty in several countries, including India, which is where I come from. This has the added benefit of giving you payments if your book is borrowed, with some free days too. However this gives Amazon the freedom to decide on pricing / reduce the price. So the decision was - do not opt for select.

A major difficulty as far as Amazon is concerned if that royalty payments (except for purchases in America and India) is through cheques sent by post after the threshold is achieved in each individual currency.  I am therefore reconciled to not receiving even a single rupee for sales in any country other that US and India.

Anyway, my book "Our Heritage Revisited : A glimpse into ancient Indian texts" is now available at  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YF1DOGM . The sample pages  are free to download and will show you what I have done. The book, in a mere 66 pages will give you a quick overview of all our Shruti and Smriti texts - the topic is sure to interest all persons having linkages with India. The second half of the book gives the gist of the concepts of the Upanishads and covers ten of the major Upanishads.

Do read it - you will be able to sound quite knowledgeable in your circle of relatives and friends and colleagues!!!!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

How I obtained ISBNs as a self-publisher in India.

Unlike several other countries, India issues ISBN numbers free, both to the publishing companies and to self publishers. The Raja Rammohun Roy National Agency for ISBN, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development is the concerned agency and is situated in New Delhi. The Ministry has explained the whole concept of ISBNs here and a quick read gives great understanding. 
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) uniquely identifies the book across the globe and is issued publisher-wise, NOT author wise. While sites such as createspace do give you ISBNs for your book, if you use theirs, effectively you restrict usage of this ISBN of your book to this publisher only. I preferred keeping all rights with myself and so got my own ISBNs.
The various proforma are also available on MHRD's site. For individuals who are self publishers of books, there is a really simple form - I doubt it could be simpler - here is the link to the form  
What I did was downloaded the form and entered the required details. I then needed to attach only three items, the cover page of the book, valid ID proof and a stamped self addressed envelop - to enable them to send the allotment letter back. I then submitted the form.
Unlike several developed countries, India has made the process free and simple, thereby encouraging self-publishers. I could very easily obtain two ISBNs (for the ebook and the paper back versions) for my book  "Our Heritage Revisited : A glimpse into ancient Indian texts"  which today is available across various Amazon online stores.  So, if you are a self-publisher, go right ahead, the process could not be easier.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Our Heritage Revisited - Introduction to the Shruti texts

My book "Our Heritage Revisited: A glimpse into ancient Indian texts" is now downloadable on the sites of amazon across several countries. I thought of uploading bits of it on my blog. Here starts the first.

When asked which are the main religious texts that we Hindus follow, many of us draw a blank. These are not the commonly known Ramayan or Mahabharat which, though great expositions of Hindu religion, are epics or stories, not pure religious texts.
The primary reason for the confusion is that there is a vast multiplicity of thoughts and their resultant scriptures (texts) that have coexisted over centuries, giving rise to the inability or difficulty in mentioning a single or even a limited number of texts describing the Hindu religion and its associated practices and beliefs. Hinduism has emerged as a way of life, a philosophy encompassing varied traditions rather than a set of directives on which our religion is based. Hinduism does have some tenets and pillars but allows for many variations and viewpoints.

No single book leads to the principles of our religion. There are many sacred writings that are sources of Hindu doctrine. Ancient Hindu philosophy is represented in a corpus of texts where the authors and dates of the composition are typically unknown. The earliest knowledge that we have is of deep-thinking philosophers, and their literature is characterized by a deep and constant concern with mans spiritual destiny as manifested by their rich philosophical concepts and the great epic poems written subsequently. Chief among these texts are those collectively known as the Veds (वेद), perhaps the oldest religious texts in the world. They consist mainly of praise / hymns to the gods of Nature as also instructions for the rituals of worship. The latest works within the class of texts known as the Veds, are the Upanishads and these are generally more philosophical. These Indian scriptures very loosely laid the foundation for most of India's philosophical schools.