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After publishing What is Religion? A Theological Answer through Wipf & Stock (US), I was ready to begin work on the South Asian edition.

Wipf & Stock had made me change my Indian spellings into US spellings (so “Saviour” became “Savior”). I decided to edit my document again for the South Asian edition and change the spellings back to the Indian (UK) spellings in which my work was original written. The other change I made was to make my quotation indents more in tune with SAIACS style guide (4-lines-or-more are indented). Wipf & Stock style guide says 8-lines-or-more are indented, which meant many of my crucial quotes were merged into the text and not highlighted as I had wanted them to be. Naturally this resulted in a change in page numbers, and yes, a change in index as well.

My mentor, Cor, strongly advised against making any changes, especially since they could change page numbers. He urged me to keep consistent page numbers to avoid confusion. But there was both political (“Indian”) and personal interest (indenting) and so I went ahead and made the change.

Shockingly, I found a few more errors in my manuscript. So I changed them in the South Asian edition and informed Wipf & Stock of the same. Wipf & Stock uses a print-to-order press, so I hoped that the few errors I did find could be corrected in a later run. With a revised layout, revised index, and even revised cover in place, I was ready to submit my document to my Indian publisher.

Ironically, and completely unexpectedly, my Indian publisher said that they were not currently ready to print my work. I had simply assumed that they would print my manuscript, once I submitted it. However, I was shocked to learn that due to a financial crunch, my manuscript was low in the priority of projects.

They did say that they wanted to publish my work, but only “not yet.” If I wanted to expedite the process, they said, I could help cover the cost of printing. But that was certainly way beyond my ability, so I had to agree to put the project on hold.

That was a big blow, something I had not considered. And so I asked my Indian publisher if I could look for alternative publishers. They agreed.

Looking for alternative publishers was itself another long process, and surprisingly for me more complex than printing/publishing in the West. I basically offered Indian publishers two choices. 1) I asked publishers whether they would co-publish the South Asian edition with my first choice Indian publisher. Which meant, they would share the cost of printing the book and then jointly market the book (along agreed upon prices), 2) I asked publishers whether they would publish my book as sole South Asian publishers (and take on the full load of marketing).

I began by asking a local Christian publisher (in Bangalore) whether they would be interested in co-publishing. This publishing house said that they found the book interesting, but they couldn’t print it because it was too academic and it had a limited market that would compete with my other publisher’s market share. It was a fair argument, so I thanked them for graciously considering my request and moved on.

I then tried a big Christian publisher. They expressed interest, and I sent them a copy of my work. But after several weeks (a couple of months actually), they still hadn’t gotten back to me. I tried contacting them, but I think they forgot about my work or that they felt it was too academic and not worth pursuing.

I then asked two other established publishers, one secular and another Christian. The Christian publisher sated that they do not jointly publish (which meant they did not even want to partner with Wipf & Stock, and were only open to publish something that was exclusively published through them. The secular press felt that my book was too specialised beyond the scope of their print profile. Both were very courteous in their mails, which was nice.

I then explored a print-by-demand option; where I could publish through my first-choice publisher, but I would only print about 100 copies so that the liability for the publisher would be less. However, the was quite expensive… coming to about 350 rupees per book. This was just too expensive and so I dropped that idea.

Finally, however, alls-well-that-ends-well, because my first-choice publisher got back to me and said that they had finally gotten some funds and were ready to print my book. Once approved, the manuscript went through the printing process quite fast. Especially since I had already edited, and revised my layout.

We were also able to negotiate a deal with the printers to print fewer copies (350 copies), so that the Publisher would not be stuck with a huge pile of unsold books. Thankfully, as a result, I didn’t have to pay anything either, though I realised I would have to do much of the marketing of the book, and also I had to consider how to get reviewers interested in reading/reviewing it.

It was ironic that after a pretty straightforward to publishing process in the West, I was struggling a bit to get my work to the press in India (the primary audience of my work!). But at least South Asian edition, something I really wanted, was coming out. Which was a relief.

Summary thoughts

1. If publishing in India, be sure that you have a publisher who is willing to publish your work.

2. If you are willing to finance your own work, you will find more publishers. If money is an issue for you, then you will have to be willing to wait.

3. Try to keep your options open (though that didn’t really help me initially). These contacts may come in handy at a later stage.

4. Negotiate the printing of fewer copies, so that your publisher need not be stuck with too many copies that may not sell (dissertations are tough to sell). Explore print-by-demand options.

5. Finally, be ready to market your own book. See where and how you would like to spread awareness of your work.

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Earlier, I remember struggling with the question of how to get books in India. Today I have an answer. I ordered three books with Flipkart and they all came through (free delivery). Best of all, I could pay it through netbanking, using Indian currency. Also, the delivery was timely. The longest delivery was for a book that Flipkart said would take 21 business days. I didn’t count, but it was something like that. The other two books came, also as promised, within a few days.

The prices are still a little steep, but then these are new books. And books are expensive. Wouldn’t it be great if Flipkart started selling second-hand books in good condition (like Amazon).

Till then, must say I was really impressed with Flipkart.

NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored message. After an excellent experience, I truly recommend flipkart for academicians in India.

Amazon.com LogoWhile my previous post told a personal story of how I did a work-around to get Amazon books to India, I am now proceeding to order books from Amazon (Canada) and deliver it to India. The following mail (I got directly from the customer service) may help others like me as well. I quote it almost entirely.

Thank you for writing to us at Amazon.ca about shipping to India.

Please note, we offer three international shipping options and also we do ship how many books you order from us to India.

– Standard International   (not trackable)

– Expedited International  (trackable via Your Account)

– Priority International   (trackable via Your Account)

Please note, transit times vary depending upon the destination country.

Our shipping policies, prices and transit times are listed on our web site at:

http://www.amazon.ca/help/shipping

Due to import restrictions and warranty issues, we cannot ship software or video games outside of Canada at this time.

We use Canada Post for our Standard International shipping.  Canada Post will take the package to the destination country, at which point it is passed to the local postal service.  Your local postal service will handle delivery of the package; for questions or

concerns regarding their delivery practices, you will need to ontact your local postal outlet.

Delivery of packages shipped via Expedited and Priority International is handled by DHL.

If you are shipping to a post office box, please select Standard International Shipping, as DHL cannot deliver to post office boxes.

Please be aware that DHL drivers do try to obtain a signature, but they can leave packages without one upon their own discretion.  It may help if you leave a note instructing the driver where to leave the package if you will not be present.

For more information regarding DHL delivery proceedures, you may contact them by visiting their web site:

http://www.dhl-usa.com/index/

Also note that customs or import duties may be levied once the package reaches the destination country.  Additional charges for customs clearance would have to be borne by the recipient; we have no control over these charges and cannot predict what they might be. Customs policies vary widely from country to country; you may want to contact your local customs office for further information.

We recommend that you read the information regarding both shipping restrictions and Customs on our web site at:

http://www.amazon.ca/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=915474

If you have any further questions, please visit the following link to send us an e-mail:

http://www.amazon.ca/gp/help/contact-us/general-questions.html

Once we receive the details from the above link, we will take appropriate action.

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and thanks for shopping at Amazon.ca.

So that’s Part I of my genuine attempt to get books home. I’m going to go ahead and order books by general shipping and see where that gets me. Let’s hope it works out. (Exciting stuff!)

I’ve just returned from a two-day study trip to Toronto. My goal was to attend two lectures hosted by the Faculty of Religious Studies in the University of Toronto. I had booked my non-refundable train tickets well in advance (to get the best price, which was still a high $155 (there and back)).  Just a few days ago, however I learned that one of those lectures were postponed… there was nothing I could do, so I continued my Toronto plans hoping I could use my time wisely.

To Toronto

So on 23rd, at 5:15am, I was standing at the Montreal bus-stop, in the snow, waiting for the first bus to take me to the metro station… and guess what? No bus. I waited (along with many other passengers) till about 5:40am. No bus. My train was at 6:30am, and I was about 35 minutes away so I walked the about 2.5 kms to the metro station and got the metro and made it on time for the train.

The train journey however was slow… and the train was one-hour late in reaching Toronto. My lecture started at 12, I reached Toronto’s Union Station at 12:30! Still I decided to make a run for it, I thought I was less than half-hour away so I could catch a part of the 1.5 hour lecture.

The subway station however was in total confusion. It seems there was a shooting in one of the stations on-route to where I was heading, and so that entire section was cordoned off. In effect I had to take two subway trains to get to where I was heading. Result, I was further delayed.

I ran to where I was supposed to go and eventually made it 10 minutes before the lecture ended. I rushed into the classroom and the lecturer asked me whether I was in the right room. I mentioned the lecture I was to attend, and he said that this is a class. The lecture has been cancelled!

In Toronto

Well I thought I’d make the most of my time here, so after checking in at the Wycliffe Dorm, and then finding an ATM to pay for the rent and deposit ($28 + $20) because they couldn’t accept my debit or credit card!!! I finally made my way to one of the main theological libraries; the Graham Library (which seems to be a combination of three college libraries). It was big, about three-four floors, and had a wide selection of books.

One thing about these North American? libraries is that they use the Library of Congress numbering system and NOT the Dewey Decimal system as in India/SAIACS. This is interesting because you don’t find books where you think you will find them (if you are manually browsing), but then you find books you don’t expect. So browsing books is can be both frustrating and fun, not knowing what to expect. I must say there are many more books here that I didn’t even know existed!

Anyway… the rest of the day I spent working on my chapter one (introduction). And surprisingly my pace had quickened and I made huge progress (I’ve never made so much progress in a day before in Montreal). So by 5:45pm, nearing dinner time (yes I missed my lunch, no time), I had completed more than half of my chapter!

Dinner at the Wycliffe Dining Hall was nice, some meatball something… that did taste good… and they had a lot of variety. Though I prefer the SAIACS serve-yourself-on-the-table way, rather than the cafeteria “we serve on your plate” way.

At night I thought I’d get some more work done, but after watching my customary relaxation movie… I was too tired… and crashed.

Back from Toronto

The next day, I had breakfast again at Wycliffe. And then attended the Anglican service (Wycliffe is an Anglican College)… and I came to realise more and more that I’m NOT a liturgy guy.

Then, I spent the rest of the day, till 3:30, working in the library again. Got a lot done, but mostly editing my previous day’s work.

Then, heading back to Wycliffe to checkout, heading to Union Station to catch my return train… all went smoothly. No shooting to report this time!

The train journey back was comfortable… and while I thought I’d watch a movie (on my laptop… because they have power sockets on each seat!) I found myself gravitating towards completing more work… and spent most of the journey working on my chapter. To the extent that while we were almost at the station, I was still typing!

Back home… however… things feel really good. I found that I don’t like Toronto as a city… and I really Montreal and I like being home.  I missed my family as much as they missed me.

But the fact that I got so much done… makes me happily realise that even though I did not attend what I had planned to attend… by God’s grace the Toronto trip was a success!

Latest update: To answer the question about whether Amazon ships to India or not, I haven’t tried it, but their site: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_navbox_596184_tips?nodeId=596188 seems to suggest that it does… and it could take about 30 days with regular shipping. I would love to hear some real-experience of BOOKS being shipped to India; but below is just my struggles, from India, to get Amazon books.

Wow. I just received seven books that are really important or at least helpful for my Research Proposal from Amazon.com But honestly, I had to do a little but of wheeling-dealing to get it to where I am today.

Being in India, I’ve been told that there are problems with Amazon’s delivery to India. And, even if they can deliver to India, they don’t accept payment from India! Some such thing.

Well, a friend of mine was visiting in the US and so I ordered 7 books through him. I needed them urgently, so I asked him to go ahead an pay extra for quick delivery charges. Even then, Amazon promised to deliver only within 4-6 working days, with a slight possibility of a further delay. Sadly, my friend had only 6 working days in the US left, so we all hoped that Amazon would meet its commitment.

Well it did! Within 3-4 days, my friend had all seven books.

Plus, even though I ordered all second hand books, they were all in pretty good condition except one (which had a lot of handwriting in it).

My friend then promptly gave me the books upon reaching India, and so that’s that.

The cost of  delivery was about $7 per book (ie. total $49 total, which comes to about Rs. 2000). And on the whole the entire bill (inc. delivery) for these 7 books came to a little more than Rs. 7000. This is a little steep in my context, yet still a bargain considering the nature of the books and how much more I would have to pay for imported editions.

Anyway, all’s well that end’s well… but I can’t help but wishing there was an easier route to get books that I would want/need.

Recently I was blessed with a really good OM Books Exhibition; I was able to buy some really good books for quite cheap.

OM Books is the major Christian publishing house in India (and was recently acquired by another publication house, STL I think). They had a really big sale in December 2006, and a lot of excellent theological books (for laypeople and students/scholars) were available for quite low cost. And by low cost I mean many books were available for less than Rs. 100 (under $2).

Of course in such exhibitions, we really need to struggle to seek-out the good books from the mediocre ones, but there were certainly a few gems. For instance I bought Craig Bartholomew et al eds., After Pentecost: Language and Biblical Interpretation (Vol. 2), for Rs. 75. Another friend of mine purchased Anthony Thistelton’s New Horizon’s for Rs. 100!!! Similarly, I bought John Thornhill’s Modernity for Rs. 216.

I don’t know how these books were available for so cheap, but I praise God for such gifts.

I understand that as I do my PhD from India, one of the biggest lack I will always face is in research resources. But I have see that while a huge gap certainly exists between Indian and Western seminaries, the gap is closing. With more and more initiatives such as these, really good books will be more accessible to common Indian students and lay people for an affordable price.

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